Deacon Reese Wiggins, St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Baton Rouge
Our gospel account from John on this day of Pentecost…finds the apostles gathered together, in what the scriptures refer to as the Upper Room. More likely than not… the very room where the Last Supper had taken place a few nights earlier. But the mood has changed. From the hopefulness and optimism of The Last Supper … to a now fearful, anxious state of affairs. The apostles were doing what Jesus had requested. Waiting. They must have been wondering … How could it all have changed on them so suddenly ?? He was gone. The doors were locked. They were
According to John’s account…Jesus was suddenly among them. And after greeting them with peace…breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit. The promise by Jesus had been fulfilled. As we just heard from the Book of Acts…the apostle Luke also presents us with yet another amazing account of the Holy Spirit. This one about 40 days later, during the Jewish festival of Pentecost. Most Christians and scholars world wide… look upon these events describing the arrival of the Holy Spirit as Jesus had promised… as the beginning times…, of what we know as “church.”
We use the noun Church in different ways, do we not ? We refer to this congregation or that as a church. We even call our worship spaces and services Church. We drive to our church. We worship… pray…fellowship… baptize…marry… and bury… at our Church.
But as the scriptures teach us… and we all are aware… the deepest meaning of the word Church, is this…
The People of God… formed by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ. Think about that a moment… True church…at it’s deepest level… is this… The People of God, formed by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ.
In other words… Church is who we are….as a community of believers. And it is by our actions of love and compassion….. understanding and forgiveness…that we show and be the Body of Christ to the world around us. That is the church.
We know this is catechism 101… But perhaps… now more than ever…we do well to be reminded of not only “who” we are… but how important each and every one of us are… to bring the living Body of Christ into the hurting world around us.
In the midst of this pandemic, it is ever more important to be aware…that we have not lost our church…because we have not lost each other and the holy and eternal bond we share.. For now we may be missing our customary fellowship and worship spaces…but Church goes on and will never stop until we stop. . We have found temporary new ways to worship and enjoy fellowship until we are reunited. That is why it is so important for us to spread the word about ST. Luke’s website and it’s opportunities for worship, prayer and fellowship.
It is an amazing paradox, when you think about it, isn’t it ?? The Holy Spirit unites us as one…not only despite our differences…but in many ways…because of our differences.
However wounded or sinful we may see ourselves at different times in our lives…. each of us… at our core… remains a unique and vital reflection of God’s love and grace… forever to be valuable in God’s eyes and heart….forever to be valuable for what we offer the world through our love and care for others.
Finally…as Paul explains to the Church of Corinth…each of us has our own gifts… and yet, we are all the same. We have been transformed into a Living Body.
Sometimes when we have failed or been wounded enough in life… in our relationships … in our faith.… it can be easy to begin to see ourselves as “less worthy” to fulfill our mission as part of the body. Truth is…like those first apostles in that Upper Room…we have all been damaged. We have all made mistakes and come up short. And we are always in need of healing and redeeming. But those things do not make us any less important… as members of the Body of Christ and our ministry in the world.
With the Holy Spirit to guide us…to teach us…to counsel us…and to strengthen us…we continue our vital role in God’s plan. AMEN