Acts 2:1-6 (Inclusive text)
When Pentecost day came around,
the apostles had all met in one room,
when suddenly they heard
what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven.
The noise filled the entire house where they were sitting.
And something appeared to them
that seemed like tongues of fire;
these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them.
They were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak foreign languages,
as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech.
Now there were devout people living in Jerusalem
from every nation under heaven, and at this sound they all assembled.
But they were bewildered to hear their native languages being spoken.
What gives evidence to the wind?
Artists have a hard time capturing and portraying the movement of the air. It is much easier to simply allude to the wind by depicting the objects that it moves: stalks of wildflowers dancing on a breeze, ripples of waves on the surface of a pond, hair blown across the cheek of a beloved.
What gives evidence to the Spirit?
Likewise it is hard to describe the movements of God among and within us. Story tellers in scripture and throughout time have struggled to articulate the essence of the Holy Spirit- often relying on metaphors or poetic license to capture something of Her truth.
We are told that she is like the soft flutter of a dove’s wing, yet also as feisty and unpredictable in her movements as a flame. This week’s scripture from Luke-Acts, one of the most familiar of biblical passages, describes a mighty wind, not outdoors where you might expect one, but inside, filling a house where the whole community of Jesus-following folk were gathered, about one hundred and twenty people in all. And divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, one tongue resting on each individual. So the Spirit is present to all, unified in form, but also divided in such a way that she is accessible and intimate.
What gives evidence to the Spirit?
For a long time when people would talk about the Holy Spirit I would tend to get kind of uncomfortable. She was too convenient and seemed to function as a sort of a spiritual catch-all. If someone wanted to claim some authority for an action or opinion they could always say the Spirit had guided them there. And I wasn’t sure how to argue with that. Or even if I even should.
But I have to let everyone know that I have tipped over the edge on this one. I love me some Holy Spirit. (Sara Miles, author of the book we have just concluded, Take this Bread, has a new one out called JesusFreak. I have heard other progressive/emergent/funky Christian writers reclaiming religious language. Like when Anne Lamott calls herself a holy roller. So can I call myself a Spirit freak?)
Call her what you will: Pneuma, breath of God, Sophia, this feminine Spirit of God woven through Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament, Flame, Wind, Advocate, Paraclete, Comforter. I’ll take them all. I also have a sneaking suspicion she may be what the Quaker’s call the inner teacher, the soul’s own wisdom.
It just makes sense to me that God is on the move and somehow accessible as an embodied experience. And I am thankful to the tradition for describing this phenomenon for me so I don’t think I’m crazy when I encounter Her presence.
And also, I am interested in what happens at Pentecost as it relates to language. Some commentators talk about this as a reversal of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11). But that would seem to suggest the creation of one unifying language from disparate linguistic fragments. And that is not what happens. Rather today’s passage describes the diversifying of language so that Greek, the imperial language, ceased — at least for a moment — to be dominant. Instead, the first act of this new incarnation of spiritual community was to give immigrants gathered in Jerusalem from all over the Roman Empire the experience of coming home after a long absence. The church, filled with the Spirit, gifts foreigners with a return to the sounds they heard while floating in their mothers’ wombs.
This leaves us with another name for the Holy Spirit: the voice which welcomes us home. Join us tonight and Sunday as we talk about spirit, home, identity, love, beauty, truth, and anything else we can squeeze in.
Join the board this Sunday for an all church meeting and Pentecost Potluck after worship at Southwood UMC (3601 South Ravinia Drive Dallas, TX 75233-3238). Call 214.233.4605 with questions (see meeting agenda below)
LOVING THE WORLD BACK TO LIFE
One of the joys of pastoring a church such as Church in the Cliff is how engaged this community is in social investment of various forms. We give money, we organize, we volunteer, we enter into relationship with the poor, locally and globally, and we help and love each other.
Church in the Cliff is planning our first Mission Trip. Inspired by Chloe, a powerful 13 year old who has grown up in our community, we are headed to New Orleans to work with kiddos. Join us in a trip to the lower 9th ward as we partner with an Episcopal parish/community center that hosts a summer camp and music program. Dates: wed July 7- sun July 11th.
Chloe is going to be taking some pictures of folks who want to support the trip and making a collage of their faces to take with the group. She is also accepting donations for the trip fund. If you are interested we will have detailed info/forms available at the All Church Meeting this Sunday. The deadline for signing up is Sunday June 6. Check your calendars and join us.
Church in the Cliff Board
Note from Kristin regarding agenda for All Church Meeting this Sunday
We have our Church in the Cliff business meeting and community lunch this coming Sunday, May 23rd at 1 p.m. at the Southwood United Methodist Church located at 3601 South Ravinia Drive Dallas, TX 75233. This is an opportunity for the community to spend some time in this space as we continue the discussion of location, identity and future.
During this business meeting and lunch, we have the opportunity to vote on several topics:
1) Beginning an affiliation with United Church of Christ
2) Renewing CitC’s affiliation with the Alliance of Baptists
3) Damon Petite as new board treasurer.
Also on the agenda is a reminder of the CitC mission trip to New Orleans lead Chloe Clark-Soles and a discussion of a potential new worship space at Southwood UMC.
For those of you who cannot attend the lunch this coming Sunday, you may e-mail your votes and statements to board clerk, Kristin Schutz, at KristinL.firstname.lastname@example.org by 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 23. If you cannot attend and will be e-mailing your votes, please continue reading for more information.
The topics we will be voting on are as follows:
1) Beginning an affiliation with United Church of Christ. CitC is currently unaffiliated. This vote is to begin the process of affiliating with UCC. Vote yes or no to beginning this affiliation.
Intelligent dialogue and a strong independent streak sometimes cause the United Church of Christ (UCC) and its 1.2 million members to be called a “heady and exasperating mix.” The UCC tends to be a mostly progressive denomination that unabashedly engages heart and mind. And yet, the UCC somehow manages to balance congregational autonomy with a strong commitment to unity among its nearly 5,600 congregations-despite wide differences among many local congregations on a variety of issues.
Dual standing within UCC:
The Affiliating church must have written documentation from the mother church/denomination before applying for dual standing in the United Church of Christ and sometimes a letter or statement from the United Church of Christ Ecumenical Offer about the ecumenical relationship of that denomination with the United Church of Christ. Affiliating congregations must go through the process and complete all the necessary requirements for dual standing including the knowledge of United Church of Christ history and polity before the conference/association ministry committee votes for dual standing for the affiliating church.
More information about UCC: http://www.facebook.com/l/a470b;www.ucc.org/
2) Renewing CitC’s affiliation with the Alliance of Baptists. CitC is currently affiliated with the Alliance of Baptists. Many of our community members are or have been part of the Alliance of Baptists. Vote yes or no to continuing our affiliation.
Levels of support:
Friend = $500 annually
Partner = 1% of annual budget.
Benefits of Affiliation:
· Subscription to connections, the monthly e-newsletter of the Alliance of Baptists
· Search & Call assistance to affiliated congregations, individual members, and theology schools
· Assistance in ordination of clergy
· Registry of ordained clergy to certify standing
· Endorsement of chaplains and pastoral counselors in specialized settings
· Access to retirement plans and insurance benefits for church staffs, chaplains, pastoral counselors, and other “wandering ministers.”
· World Wide mission partnerships
· Ecumencial relationships with the National Council of Churches, the United Church of Christ, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and others.
· Interfaith dialogue
· Public witness to religious liberty, peace and justice
· Resources on a variety of relevant topics and issues
For more information bout the Alliance of Baptists: http://www.facebook.com/l/a470b;www.allianceofbaptists.org/
3) Damon Petite as new board treasurer. CitC needs a committed and capable treasurer to steer the community to financial sustainability. Damon has graciously offered his time and talents to CitC. Vote yes or no to Damon as new CitC treasurer.
Please send your three votes to CitC board clerk, Kristin Schutz, at KristinL.Schutz@gmail.com by 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 23.
Thanks for bearing with us during this long message!
Ross Prater, Moderator
Kristin Schutz, Clerk
James Fairchild, Trustee
Cara Stoneham, Trustee
Please contact Kristin Schutz, clerk at email@example.com or moderator Ross Prater, at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or feedback.
Also, a note from Cara:
Need something to do this summer? In collaboration with the United Church of Christ, the Alliance of Baptists is launching the Summer Communities of Service program this summer. The Summer Communities of Service program is a mission-learning opportunity that will place young adults, ages 19-30, in host congregations across the country. The young adults will live in intentional Christian community as they serve as volunteers four days a week in a hands-on capacity with a local ministry connected with a congregation, an existing domestic Alliance mission partner, or a community agency committed to social justice. They will engage in social justice issues, living in intentional spiritual community, and connecting with UCC and Alliance-affiliated churches across the country. Participants will recieve a $1000 stipend, housing, health insurance, and a food/transportation allotment. Orientation will be June 2-4 in Raleigh, NC and dates of service at their host sites will be from June 5 to August 14. For more information and an application: www.allianceofbaptists.org/serve/missions/summercommunitiesofservice