God is in the house - Reflections 5-28-20

Texts for Pentecost Sunday
May 31, 2020

Acts 2:1-21
Psalm 104:24-35 
1 Corinthians 12:3b-13 
John 20:19-23

At the very start of creation God’s breath/wind/spirit moved and stirred across chaos. With a word from God, all creation came alive. Then that creating Word became flesh and that fleshly Word lived and taught and died in a particular time within a particular people. And THEN, in this week’s first reading story, after the Flesh had ascended, that same Word as Spirit poured, gushed, surged out on all people and they understood, each in their own language. Wind, flame, and Word: God is house.

I wrote most of that paragraph for a Pentecost devotion several years ago.

One thing celebrated on Pentecost Sunday is the bringing together of the community of faith through the Spirit’s action. The story from Acts begins with “they were all together in one place”. What do we do with that when we in the midst of a pandemic are not, in fact, together in one place?  Or the story from John, where the disciples are huddled together when we are huddled apart? Remember: God is in the house.

In the Acts story, suddenly the disciples speak in a way that everyone – and by everyone, we mean people from a lot of countries, cultures, and languages - in the crowd can understand. The Spirit makes it clear here in the second chapter of “the Acts of the Apostles” that there are no barriers in the Spirit’s invitation and action. The crowd is now a multi-cultural unity. Definitely: God is in the house. 

Paul, in the Corinthian text, describes the community of faith as one body. Some of my favorite confirmation class or lock-in activities have arisen from this image. Youth claim their spot as the “third toe on left foot” or the “right elbow”. Then we move on to claim the gifts God has given to each one for the common good in the same way our toe or elbow are important parts of the whole body. The Spirit has been poured out on each person. That phrase, “for the common good” helps to focus on the gifts we bring to the group and how our gifts work alongside the gifts of others. God has brought together diverse people with diverse gifts for the benefit of all. That “all” can be the local, national, international, all of humankind or the whole earth. Think of the group who will eventually develop a vaccine for COVID19 or the ones addressing climate change or think straight talking climate activist Greta Thunberg. Gifts for the world: God is in the house.

Another way to say that comes from Martin Luther (of course).  He essentially depicts the Holy Spirit as a verb, God’s action in the world. Luther said that the Holy Spirit calls, gathers, enlightens, sanctifies, each person, and keeps the whole Christian church on earth as one with Jesus. One: God is in the house.

We are separated. We are huddled. We are not together to mark the celebration of being a community together. But the diverse community brought together and gifted for the common good by the Holy Spirit stretches across time and space from the disciples in Jerusalem after Jesus’ death, to us today, and to those who come in the future. We will miss each other and will miss being together for the celebration, but we will not be left out of the diverse and gifted community. The Spirit is moving and stirring this COVID chaos. We will not be left out: God is in the house.

How to Find Us

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245