Sunday, May 31, 2009

Borrowed words

A small congregation gathered for the 8.00 this morning; those allergic to incense, or to children, or to both. Those who revere Cranmer's prose as the only proper vehicle for worship.Those who just like this service best.
I'd not felt creative yesterday, so turned to the archives, where I found a story that, iirc, Dr Moose posted three years ago.
Looking for calm and restoration after a tiring week, I turned to it this morning as the lynch-pin for my thought for the day.
I never know what this congregation makes of my periodic story telling, but I was glad to tell it and to remember its message myself.

The Feast of Pentecost is our yearly celebration and opportunity to bond with the reality of God's personal presence—the God who is alive and who gives life to the Church…but somehow, we often seem to struggle to celebrate this feast and this presence.
For too many years, it seemed that the Spirit was the poor relation of the Trinity, and most Anglicans tended to behave as his coming at Pentecost was a one-off event, necessary to give birth to the church, but of no real relevance in the life and practice of the faith in recent times.
While I remember with joy other church festivals of my childhood, "Whitsun" was simply baffling, - even the hymns weren't as good, - possibly because there's a limit to the number of rhymes for "ghost".
Of course, this changed with the charismatic movement,- but a new problem arose as different factions within the church tended to behave as if they assumed monopoly of the Holy Spirit…We might, for example, find ourselves invited to join in “spirit filled worship”,- as if only styles of service that fit a particular template can hope to interest God! Sometimes it seems as if we’re in danger of forgetting that the Spirit can come as gently as breath, as well as in the dramatic excitement of mighty wind and tongues of flame.
But the reality, as expressed in our reading from Acts, is greater than any of our attempts to confine or restrict it…
God’s promise, mediated through the prophet, is more radical than we’d dare to imagine
“I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh
Barriers and boundaries - of parish, denomination, even of faith - are out.
“I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh
The great inclusive tide of God’s love will simply sweep our human obstacles away…
And so, let me share with you a Pentecost parable, told me by a friend.
It reminds us that God’s dream is the dream of a world in which EVERYONE who calls upon his name will be saved.

There were once three men who lived in a hot, barren and rocky land. One day each of them noticed that a spring had appeared on his land, and the waters were making a lovely pool. It was cool and refreshing. Each man gave thanks to God and wondered what he should do with the pool and the water.

The first man said, “I know. I'll use it to swim in. I will float in it. Splash in it. Luxuriate in it.” And so he did. He even invited his friends to join him in enjoying it. But outside his neighbours continued to suffer in the heat, dust and barrenness.

The second man thought differently. “I know,” he said, ”I will channel it and help it to flow through my land. I will make little waterfalls and pools, so I can relax at the end of each hard day's work to the sound, and I will drink the fresh water.” And so he did. But outside his neighbours continued to suffer in the heat, dust and barrenness.

The third man said, “I know. There's enough here for everyone. I will invite my neighbours to come and use the water. Together we can drink it, swim in it, listen to its sounds and use it to water our lands and crops.” And so he did. And his neighbours became his friends and the land became green and fruitful and they all gave glory to God.

1 comment:

Song in my Heart said...

I like the story, it's a sort of Stone Soup in reverse. And I like messages of unity and inclusion, but you knew that.

One of my very favourite hymns is a Pentecost hymn. I don't know if that link will take you right to page 449 where it is. It's sung to Ebenezer which I've had stuck in my head for most of the week. Too bad about the copyright.

(Also: that book is really expensive and doesn't even appear to have music dots in, so I'm going to close that tab before I sprain soemthing, like my wallet.)