You can watch the service on the following link:

 Reverend Wendy MacLean, Christ United Church, Lyn
Pentecost 2020

Holy Mystery, Life of life, Wisdom child,
you visit us in light and love,
you meet us in breath and hope.
Find us where we are this day.
Find the places where fear waits.
Find the tight knots that keep us from being free.
Find the storage chests where we keep old hurts.
Blow your spirit
to clear these nooks and crannies of our hearts.
Free our tongues to speak truth in love.
Speak to us in the language of spirit
without the boundaries or limitations
that keep us from the wonder and power
of your call to live together in peace
and your grace
that makes this possible.
Be in my words, may they be true and faithful to the gospel
and may our understandings be a blessing to you. AMEN

At the Brockville Market, on a Saturday morning, you will find an amazing choice of delicious food: Thai spring rolls, Ukrainian cabbage rolls, Indian samosas, Syrian tabbouleh, Chilean empanadas...I hope this is making you hungry! Over the past many years, the multicultural blessing of the community has been celebrated with a great festival held at the Memorial Centre. This year, because of the Pandemic, we will have to dream of a new day when the markets is open again and when we can gather to celebrate our multicultural community.

 In our story today from the book of Acts, people from many different cultures, speaking many different languages, “Jews from every nation under heaven” 
have gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Pentecost Harvest Festival, which falls 50 days after the second day of Passover.

The disciples are together in a house, when suddenly something that seemed like a violent wind from heaven shook the house, and they saw what seemed to be flames of fire, above each other’s heads. When they go to exclaim—they find themselves speaking in different languages.

Outside the house, the crowd stand in awe, and bewilderment. How can it be these hicks from Galilee are talking in so many different languages? And how can it be that the people in the crowd understand?

Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, What does it mean? (Acts 2:12)

That’s a good question. We are still asking it today.
There are all kinds of answers. Charismatic Christians and Pentecostals rely on the gift of speaking in tongues as a sign of the Spirit, and a prayer language that is evidence of their intimate relationship with God.

At the heart of this experience of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, is the power of language to shape our world. At Pentecost the Spirit is giving a new way of experiencing the Word, that expands “the word made flesh” beyond the boundaries of understanding. Once again, the disciples (and we are included in this) are expected to open themselves to a new experience, beyond anything they have ever known.

Fire coming out of their heads, speaking in different languages: COME ON, do you expect me to believe this? The Spirit comes with outrageous drama, and of course, it is beyond belief. That is why this has to be experienced. Jesus has told them they will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Today the Spirit pushes their understanding beyond any categories or limitations: this is wild stuff. When Peter tries to explain, the people think he is drunk.

Peter quotes the prophet Joel, whose words of warning and promise, had been addressed to people whose fields were completely devastated by locusts, a people whose hopes were at a very low tide, a people who were giving up on God. About 700 years before Peter quoted this sermon to a bewildered group on Pentecost, Joel’s words of prophesy warned about the fierce coming of the Day of the Lord:

 I will show wonders in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke,
The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
(Acts 2:19-20; Joel 2:30-31)

When the powerful tsunami and earthquake hit the shores of Fukishima, Japan, in March, 2011, the smoke and fire from the devastation filled the skies. The terror could not be measured, but certainly it must have felt like the world, as they knew it, was coming to an end.

The world waited as the core of nuclear reactors heated up. Would this be another nuclear explosion? Day after day the media flashed pictures of the rubble of people’s homes and the towns in the region around Fukishima. In one of these pictures, a little girl in pink rubber boots walks with her grandmother, holding her hand as they work their way over the broken boards and fallen roofs, trying to get to safety.

That little girl is probably twenty years old now.

After seeing her world end, did she take up the call to prophesy, to dream dreams of a new world, to trust in a vision of a new future?

On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit gave the people the ability to speak in different languages, and to understand the speaking of strangers from afar. The Holy Spirit gives us new ways of experiencing the life of God in our world. The Spirit is relentless: always active, always present, always reaching out to us.

Spirit comes like a grandmother, holding the hand of a child.
Spirit comes, walking with us as we survey the rubble of the life we expected: as we grieve, as we regret, as we cry out.
Spirit comes and takes our hand and we walk.
Don’t be afraid, she says, as she shows us how to forgive.
Don’t be afraid, she says, as she urges us to dream big.
Don’t be afraid, she says, as she gives us the words we need to speak justice, to reconcile and to make new.

 The Spirit gives us language to speak peace, to speak love, to speak hope.  On Pentecost we are baptized by the Holy Spirit: drenched in a whole new way of seeing and being in the world, on fire with the possibilities of a new creation of justice and peace. God breathes in us: Spirit God, be our breath, be our song.

 Before I went to Japan, several years ago, I heard a beautiful Japanese lullaby called Takeda no Koriuta. I didn’t understand a word of it, so I wrote my own lyrics, in English. As I wrote, I imagined the little girl in her rubber boots, with her grandmother, in Fukishima.

On Pentecost, God comes, like a grandmother, to take our hands, and lead us through these days as we meet on the internet from across the world, together in Spirit, singing blessing and thanks. Today, as we worship in social isolation, kept apart from each other, Spirit breaks into our rooms, and invites us to a whole new world.

Satori and Tim learned the music for the Lullaby, and today we hear a recording they made in worship five years ago. The words hold my prayer for the little girl, her grandmother, and our world as we heal.
 Lullaby for Fukishima

 Sing of the moon and the stars, child,
tell of the night’s dreaming song
Lend us the words for the sun’s breaking
cross from the darkness to dawn

So much that we do not know, child
folded like silk in your hands
wrap us in morning and call to us
sing to the far distant lands
Cry for the rain and the soil, child,
cry for the rice and the beans
out of the sky comes more sorrow
out of the earth, broken dreams

Walk through the rubble and loss, child
holding your grandmother’s hand
wearing your pink rubber boots, child,
Promise to build a new land.
Sing of the moon and the stars, child,
tell of the night’s dreaming song
Lend us the words for the sun’s breaking
cross from the darkness to dawn

 to the tune of Lullaby of Takeda,
(Takeda no Komoriuta-- a Japanese cradle song)