If you have any questions, please contact Canon Mike Orr at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oh, mighty God, on this day, you open the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promise gift of your Holy Spirit. Shed abroad this gift throughout the world, by the preaching of the gospel that it may reach to the ends of the earth. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen. To the honor and glory of God, and by the Word and through the Spirit creates redeems and sanctifies us. Amen.
Before I was elected bishop, when I was on walkabout, I told the story of my son challenging me. The story of my oldest child challenging me to set aside my judgment of his music, the rough lyrics, the harsh language, to set aside my judgment and listen to the heartbreak, to the struggle, to the pain. Two days ago, when I came downstairs, I heard my child listening to a song called Sunshine by a rapper known as Pusha T. I want to share some of those lyrics with you, slightly edited. America, you need a miracle beyond spiritual. I need a realer view. I hold a mirror to it. These ain’t new problems, they just old ways. I see one time sunshine into Freddie Gray. Just another one dead, just another one dead. Send another to the feds, send another to the feds. Still not guilty, but I’m so filthy. Sunday to Sunday, pastor only want one day. Grandma praying someday, but God can’t hear it over gun play. Woo, still a target, but the badge is the new noose. Yeah, we all see it, but cell phones ain’t enough proof. So we still lose.
Those lyrics were written years ago. Those lyrics were written years before George Floyd was murdered, before Sean Reed, before Brionna Taylor, before Ahmaud Arbery, those lyrics were written years ago. And two days ago, my oldest child looked at me and said, “Nothing’s going to change, is it?” “Nothing is going to change.”
And what is the church going to do about it? Today, we celebrate the feast day of Pentecost. We hear the story of the disciples gathered. We hear the story of Jews from all over the world, of different skin tones and different languages, gathering in Jerusalem. We hear the miracle of the Holy Spirit falling on them. And everyone hearing the gospel in their own language. We hear Peter, who denied Jesus three times, proclaiming publicly the gospel of Jesus Christ. This gospel that is for all. We hear him quoting the prophet Joel, God will pour out the Spirit on all flesh. But we live in a world that continually demonstrates that we don’t believe that God’s Spirit is poured out on all flesh. We live in a world that continually demonstrates that some flesh is more valuable than others, that some lives are more expendable than others. And we keep living in that reality instead of the reality that we are called by the Holy Spirit to live in, and that is recognizing in every human being, black, brown, native, Asian, beloved children of God.
We continue to live in a world that tells us it is our goal to build a society in which there are some at the top while others are crushed at the bottom, continue to live in a world that denies that God’s Holy Spirit is poured out on all flesh, not just yours, not just mine, but all flesh. My son asked me a question that I had to dig deep to answer. When my son asked, “Nothing’s going to change, is it?” I had to dig deep into the well of my faith. I had to remember all that my Jesus did for me, for you, for the transformation of this cold-hearted and cruel world. I had to look at him and say, “Yes, it will change. It must change because we who follow Jesus, we who have been given this gift of the Holy Spirit, we who have the power of this gospel know that the only way to transform this world is through love.
We know that the only way to transform this world is when we stand up for justice, for graciousness, for all people in this world. I had to say to my son, from the well of my faith, that will change, because I believe it is our job as church, as the body of Christ, to change it. It is our job as the body of Christ not to just proclaim Jesus, but to proclaim God’s Spirit poured out on all flesh. It is our job as the church to be about the transforming of this cold broken, sinful, hate-filled world. The only way we can transform it is by treating the least of these like Jesus. By standing up for those who have no voices. By calling our world to a better way, a way of love, a way of justice, a way of recognizing the [Latin 00:08:41] image of God in every one of God’s beloved children.
It is my faith that we can change, not with defensiveness, not with, “It wasn’t me,” not with, “I would never,” but with hearts that are open to hearing the heartbreak, the suffering and the pain of those around us. If by the Holy Spirit’s grace, we are given ears to hear the cries of our siblings who suffer, if by the Holy Spirit’s grace, we can hear in their language them speaking their anguish, and we can meet it with love, yes, things can change. Yes, this world can be transformed. Yes, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can recognize God’s Spirit in all flesh. The question is, church, what are we going to do with that?