A Spiritual Language Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins (Pentecost 2016) In the Hebrew scriptures there is a story of the prophet Elijah who rose in a whirlwind with a fiery chariot present. His spirit or life-force then descended on his disciple Elisha. There was a legend that Elijah would one day return to earthly life. In […]
A Spiritual Language
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins (Pentecost 2016)
In the Hebrew scriptures there is a story of the prophet Elijah who rose in a whirlwind with a fiery chariot present.
His spirit or life-force then descended on his disciple Elisha.
There was a legend that Elijah would one day return to earthly life.
In the book of Acts, Luke transfers the Elijah story to Jesus; Jesus ascends and spirit falls on his disciples.
But filled with the spirit that empowered Jesus, they then become the body of Christ in the world…they are the return, and we who hear and embrace and try to live the story are also the return.
So, Luke is trying to put the return of Christ speculation to rest. It’s us, he’s saying, now get to work.
Luke includes wind, fire, and spiritual empowerment of disciples in his story, all of which were dramatic elements of the Elijah tale. Of course the wind represents the energy, the power, the presence, the spirit of God, and the flames represent the light within us, the passion of our hearts to be a force for good in the world.
What Luke adds, and what always resonates with me, is the disciples’ ability to speak in new ways after their transformational experience.
That is when spirituality is most effective, I think…when it teaches us how to speak in new ways, how to communicate good news in new ways, how to relate hope in new ways.
Luke imagines this mysterious moment as being the turning point for the Christian movement. They are now Christ in the world. They are now aware of their unity with God’s power and presence. They now have new hope and new courage and new peace, and they now are sharing this message in new ways so that more people can embrace it and benefit from it.
That’s what we want, even still. So we speak in ways that seem to new to many people, but they are ways that help us discover God within us and that discovery transforms us. It heals our fears, it renews our hopes, it reminds us that we have something to share and as we share it the world is made better.
And so we say:
I am God’s miracle and not God’s mistake.
There’s not a spot where God is not.
The past is past and the future has infinite possibilities.
This new way of talking isn’t really new; it’s just new for people who were thoroughly religious (oddly enough).
The Psalmist affirmed, “God is my shepherd, my needs are met.”
The Apostle Paul affirmed, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God.”
Jesus affirmed, “God and I are one.”
Others have shown us this new way of speaking…
Emma Curtis Hopkins said: “There is good for me and I ought to have it.”
“There is no mixture of evil with my good.”
Johnnie Colemon: “I am the thinker that thinks the thought that makes the thing.”
Nona Brooks: “I am in God, of God, like God.”
James Dillet Freeman “The light of God surrounds me; the love of God enfolds me. The power of God protects me; the presence of God watches over me. Wherever I am, God is” and all is well.
Julian of Norwich “All shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”
We are the resurrected and returned presence of Christ in the world.
We are divine Love incarnate.
And we have the power to remind ourselves of that day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute.
We can remind ourselves of our sacred value over and over until we are transformed, renewed, and filled with joy.
And having embraced these gifts, we have them to share with a world that needs them.
To every gay person in Jamaica, Nigeria, Uganda, or Russia whose life is in constant danger just for being who you are, we speak this spiritual language to and for you today declaring that you are God’s miracle and not God’s mistake.
To our transgender and gender non-conforming friends who are being demonized and dehumanized for base, crass political reasons, we speak this spiritual language to and for you today declaring that you are in God, of like, and like God.
To anyone who has known pain, disappointment, fear, or regret, we speak this spiritual language to and for you today declaring that all shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.
To anyone who has believed that for any reason that they were beyond the reach of God’s love, we speak this spiritual language to and for you today declaring that NOTHING can separate you from the love of God.
And for anyone who is trying to summon hope in your life, we speak this spiritual language to and for you today declaring that there’s not a spot where God is not…wherever you are, God is, and wherever God is, there is reason to hope.
Whoever you are, wherever you are, this can be your Pentecostal moment, your moment of transformation, where you embrace and celebrate the healing message that you are one with God. And this is the good news! Amen.
© Durrell Watkins 2016
I am speaking words of life today.
I am speaking words of hope today.
I am speaking words of joy today.