We Are Conduits of Divine Love

On June 9, 2019, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

We Are Conduits of Divine Love Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins Pentecost 2019 Let us dwell together in peace, let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; and now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen. To discuss Pentecost is the discuss quite a lot of the bible […]

We Are Conduits of Divine Love
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
Pentecost 2019

Let us dwell together in peace, let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; and now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen.

To discuss Pentecost is the discuss quite a lot of the bible (get ready!). Pentecost was a harvest festival, a festival of the first fruits, and according to a story in the book of Acts, it was during the time of Pentecost that the disciples had a powerful spiritual experience. It was on the 50th day after the Easter moment, just as Moses received the Torah 50 days after Passover.

The symbolism is obviously meant to connect the Jesus movement with his Jewish heritage, scriptures, and traditions.

Pentecost calls to mind not only Moses, but also Elijah (remember how Jesus encounters them both on the Mount of Transfiguration?).

2 Kings 2: The prophet Elijah is taken into the heavens at the end of his ministry. He ascends to the sky while his disciple, Elisha, watches. Elisha has been told that if he witnesses Elijah’s ascension, he will receive a double portion of the prophet’s spirit. Sure enough, according to the tale, a fiery chariot pulled by fiery horses appears and Elijah is carried away by a strong wind.

Fire and wind. The disciple receives the prophet’s spirit. Immediately after, Elisha starts doing powerful deeds.

He parts a body of water, for example. He also curses some mean kids who make fun of his baldness, and then a bear eats the kids…but let’s not get into those weeds today.

Ascension. Fire. Wind. Disciple. Miracles. That’s the story.

Pentecost happens 10 days after Jesus’ ascension, and at Pentecost, the disciples receive the spirit their teacher promised. It comes with tongues of fire, and a mighty wind, and soon after they start working miracles.

The story, referring to the Elijah & Elisha legend, is affirming the prophetic mission of Jesus and of his disciples. They are as called by God and as equipped by God as Elisha was.

Tradition says that the Spirit fell at Pentecost with wind and flames and people speaking different languages in the Upper Room where Jesus shared the Last Supper 7 weeks earlier. I was recently in that Upper Room, hearing people speak all kinds of languages from all over the world, but I could understand their curiosity, their devotion, their wonder…each spoke differently, but all communicated the same message. I could feel something in the room, and at one point I looked up and saw shadows of the people dancing on the ceiling, resembling flames. It was a moment of communion, a moment of call, a moment to remember there is a power of divine love flowing through us, bidding us to do what we can to be healers of a wounded world.

While in Jerusalem, we heard stories about Mary, the mother of Jesus, returning to the building where the Last Supper was held and serving as an interim leader of the Jerusalem group until her son James was ready to lead the Jerusalem church. There is quite a lot of art showing Mary central at Pentecost, with the disciples all around her as they must have been around Jesus at the Last Supper. Mary was a conduit of divine love, and so are we, doing what we can to share hope and healing in the world.

The gospel writers foreshadow the Pentecost experience. Both Matthew and Luke have John the Baptizer saying,
“I baptize with water, but there is one coming after me who will baptize with the holy Spirit and fire.”
Pentecost is when we see the wind of spirit blow and fire dancing overhead, a baptism of spirit and fire.

Luke, in Acts 2 imagines the scene very dramatically. John’s gospel imagines the baptism of spirit and fire looking more subdued. In John 20, the fire is simply the fire of life, as the Resurrected Christ appears to the disciples and instead of a mighty wind, there is a gentle breath. Jesus breathes on his friends and says, “Receive the holy Breath, the holy Spirit.” He affirms peace for them, and sends them out into the world to continue the work they had been doing. Whether by mighty wind or gentle breath, the spirit empowers us to share divine love with a hurting world.

Mark 1, Matthew 3, Luke 3, and John 1 all say at his baptism, the Spirit descended on Jesus and he was affirmed as God’s chosen one.
Pentecost tells us that we who follow Jesus have been affirmed by the same spirit to be the vehicles by which the Christ work continues.

After his baptism, Jesus went into the desert. After the spirit descends on him, Jesus has to get busy. He has work to do. A baptism of spirit is a call to action. A baptism of spirit is a reminder that we are conduits of divine love.

For Luke, writing the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts, Jesus is executed but somehow is experienced beyond his death, and we call that Resurrection. A few weeks later, he ascends, as the prophet Elijah did, and then a week and half later, his spirit descends on the disciples like Elijah’s spirit descended on Elisha. It’s the old story being retold, and repurposed, and relived. And now, the spirited church is sent out to continue the Christ-work, making the church the returned body of Christ.

We, the Church, are meant to be Christ in the world. Christ has returned every time we feed the hungry, and work for the release of political prisoners, and show compassion to refugees, and work for medical treatment for all people regardless of their income, and try to be good stewards of the planet, and work for justice and peace…when we embody the Christ message, we are the body of Christ, the return of Christ.

In Matthew chapter 9, Jesus shows compassion to a man who couldn’t walk, to a woman who had been chronically ill, to a girl thought to be dead, to some people who were vision impaired, to a person who couldn’t speak, and after he had done all of that, he says, “We need more laborers in the harvest.” And then in chapter 10, he calls together his 12 disciples and he tells them to get to work. He sends them out to show compassion, and work for justice, and remind people they are God’s miracle and not God’s mistake.

And Acts 2, the Pentecost story, it happens again. The spirit empowers disciples to get back to work for the kin-dom.
You have the power. Feel the wind? See the flames? Those are reminders that you have the power, now use it to make the world a better place.

A harvest festival celebrating the first fruits is when a group of devotees get energized by the spirit with signs of dancing flames. A day of fruits and flames – how appropriate for Pride month; and what an excellent reminder that we are all conduits of divine love. This is the Pentecost message and this is the good news. Amen.

Spirit of wisdom, love, and power:
Fill me with hope and joy;
flow through me as healing love.
Bless me, and through me, bless the world.
Alleluia!
Amen.

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