More Grey Please, Evelyn Ward de Roo
mixed media artist and sonic mystic
1st Reading: Act 1:12-14; 2:1-21 and Gospel: Luke 17:20-25a
All the texts, images and lyrics in today’s service, convey a plethora of different ways to speak about, experience and celebrate how we are all equally Spirit empowered. Every single one of us is inspired to proclaim The Good News of God’s Realm that has come and continues to come to be, in and with each one of us! And no matter how much we try, we can never exhaust or control the ways to name and describe this Divine power of love. Therefore, when we come upon someone or a group with a new or different way of describing and experiencing The Reign of God that is different than our own, we need not defend against this difference. Instead, let us celebrate another outpouring of Pentecost, for we are encountering an additional reminder of how unlimited and marvelous God’s Love is!
To begin to name some of the ways God works in and through us would be a Power of Grace who sustains and protects. This same Divine Force is like fire that always burns yet never consumes. Like the shade of a Mighty Oak that helps us to know that our Resurrection and Epiphany moments, seemingly so isolated, can actually initiate and energize ongoing transformative movements.
And even in this strange and difficult Covid time, we have been given the power to wait with fortitude and to remember that in the wake of former plagues, much strife was brought down! Just like our fellow members of the Cloud of Witnesses, we may be looking at the daily news reports of this pandemic and we can see that many people have reached beyond their own isolated, small self for the sake of the common good.
Today’s readings point to two different versions of Acts, where isolated persons, who had sheltered in place for so long, were suddenly Spirit-transformed to move beyond their upper room. The first account, read in our opening acclamation, is from the Gospel of Mary (Magdalene). The words spoken come from Mary as she embraces and reassures her fellow disciples, that even though Jesus has gone and things have changed, they have the power of Grace to sustain, protect and proclaim the Fullness of Humanity as The Good News of God’s Realm.
The other account is from the second book that the author Luke wrote often called The Acts of the Apostles. Sometimes when I read this second work of Luke’s, I get hung up on the fact that the only woman named, out of the 120 people present at Pentecost, was Mary, Jesus’ mother. Or, I get hung up on how the title given to the text much later, suggests the work is about all the Apostles, when it is mostly about Peter's and Luke’s version of Paul. These realities are rarely spoken of.
In this passage, Luke’s audience is mostly Jewish people, immigrants who gathered in Jerusalem, coming from all over the Roman Empire to celebrate the Jewish Feast of Pentecost. Then a sudden coming of the Spirit is experienced amongst them as a gale force wind. These Jewish listeners would probably have thought this Spirit to be Ruach, the feminine Hebrew word that describes the Spirit in Genesis. Ruach is the one who moved and hovered over the waters of creation. In addition, Luke explains the Spirit as tongue-like flames coming upon each person individually, as an equal inclusive outpouring and not just upon the men that he chose to name. Those who received this powerful, feminine wildfire outpouring were so dramatically transformed with enthusiastic excitement that they appeared to be drunk to their onlookers!
Perhaps the most important attribute of this account of the Divine Outpouring of Pentecost is the one that empowers us to navigate continuous change as it allows us to be able to understand each other in our differences. This Spirit energizes us to be able to comprehend what another, especially someone who is speaking and acting different than us, is up to and not be threatened by it! Often these verses about the languages are thought to mean that the listeners present in Luke’s story, who spoke different foreign languages, could understand the disciples from Galilee. I wonder, does this gale force wild fire presence of the kin-dom of God within, give us more power and patience to try to understand people who are speaking and acting upon a different point of view? Could this finally be the gift of The Risen Christ’s Peace that surpasses conventional understanding? Could that even be the fuel for the hope for world peace? The Divine Power of Love that enables us to comprehend and act upon a greater fullness of humanity’s ways of being and not just our own? Now wouldn’t that be The Good News of God’s Realm that we need, especially for times such as these?
Happy Pentecost and Amen!
Evelyn Ward de Roo, mixed media artist and sonic mystic @ www.nurturingspace.ca