“Commit to Listen: Happy Birthday Church” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

June 6th,2019 Categories: Stephanie Kendell Letters, Weekly Letter

Beloved Church,

I hope you are having an incredible week. We have so much happening in the life of the church I hope you will join us for YASS, Soulfood Fellowship, LatinX, one of our Pride events, and of course worship! Each gathering provides an incredible time for us to learn and grow with God by listening to how God is at work in the lives of each other. We hope to see you Sunday!

This week is Pentecost which means we should shout a big Happy Birthday to the church! And while it is tradition to give gifts to the one celebrating the birthday, with Pentecost, I think the reverse is true. What a gift the church is to us! And what is the church? It is you! It is you sharing your spiritual gifts, your stories, your abundance, your hopes and your love with the diverse global community God has created for you. The scripture for Pentecost is one that celebrates that diversity, and specifically name the many languages of God’s people. And I don’t know about you, but this also makes me think of our monthly commitment to listen. So, friends, listen to the story of the birthday of our church. Listen to the stories of God at work in the world. And listen to the stories that are present beyond language: the rushing wind, the passion of a community preaching, the love of God at work in the world.

1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they all met in one room. 2 Suddenly they heard what sounded like a violent, rushing wind from heaven; the noise filled the entire house in which they were sitting. 3 Something appeared to them that seemed like tongues of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each one. 4 They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as she enabled them.

5 Now there were devout people living in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven, 6 and at this sound they all assembled. But they were bewildered to hear their native languages being spoken. 7 They were amazed and astonished:
“Surely all of these people speaking are Galileans!
8 How does it happen that each of us hears these words in our native tongue? 9 We are Parthians, Medes and Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya around Cyrene, as well as visitors from Rome- 11 all Jews, or converts to Judaism-Cretans and Arabs, too; we hear them preaching, each in our own language, about the marvels of God!”

12 All were amazed and disturbed. They asked each other, “What does this mean?” 13 But others said mockingly, “They’ve drunk too much new wine.”

14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven and addressed the
crowd: “Women and men of Judea, and all you who live in Jerusalem! Listen to what I have to say! 15 These people are not drunk as you think-it’s only nine o’clock in the morning!
16 No, it’s what Joel the prophet spoke of:

17 ‘In the days to come
It is our God who speaks!
will pour out my Spirit
on all humankind.
Your daughters and sons will prophesy,
your young people will see visions,
and your elders will dream dreams.

18 Even on the most insignificant of my people, both women and men, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

19 And I will display wonders
in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below:
blood, fire and billowing smoke.

20 The sun will be turned into darkness
and the moon will become blood
before the coming of the
great and sublime day of our God.

21 And all who call upon the name
of our God will be saved.’ (Acts 2:1-21)

Friends, we live in a world very much like the time described in this verse. We are a diverse group of people, speaking different languages with many passions and unique relationships with a still speaking God. And that diversity is the gift of being the church. It is not our comfort in community or our building but our call to be in community fully and authentically the way God created us. So Happy Birthday church! May we celebrate another year where we speak justice boldly in the heart language the spirit has called you with.

Shalom Y’all,
Rev. Stephanie

A quick prayer for your week: God, Thank you for another breath, another day, another beloved year with you.