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Day of Pentecost 2007

  • To:
  • Subject: Day of Pentecost 2007
  • From: Grant Morris Gallup <grant73@turbonett.com.ni>
  • Date: Fri, 25 May 2007 16:13:49 -0600


May 27 2007

Acts 2:1-11 While the day of Pentecost was running its course
Joel 2:28-32 Your sons and daughters shall prophesy
Psalm 104:25-37 In wisdom you have made them all
or 33:12-15,18-22 The Lord watches all the inhabitants of the earth
I Corinthians 12:4-13 Varieties of gifts but the same Spirit
John 20:19-23 He breathed on them
or John 14:8-17 Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father."

One word kept coming to me each day this past week--the week of nine
days (they gave us the name Novena) that begins with the Ascension
Day and ends today, and that word is SOLIDARITY. It's not a word
that's very popular in the U.S.A. today, but it used to be heard a
lot, especially in the trade union movement (remember that?).
Solidarity--remember the song, "Solidarity Forever"? The working
people used to sing it from memory. I went to a public meeting once
where young union leaders needed a song sheet to get the words right.
Solidarity Forever expressed the intention of people to stand by each
other solidly in the common struggle for a decent wage, and decent
working conditions, and for social justice. It meant that if the
people who worked in a Hormel meat packing plant in Minnesota went on
strike, then members of the teachers' union in Chicago would stand by
them in solidarity, in more than sympathy, but in agreement and in
support. When I went to Nicaragua in 1985, people in Chicago asked me
"why?" and I who hate humidity, who hate mosquitoes, and in whose
soul their chills a Christina Rossetti Bleak Midwinter, asked myself
"Why?" Witness for Peace had the one word answer we would learn to
give: Solidarity. To stand as one with those whom the politics of the
U.S. were murdering, to be with them in their place, to be in solid
witness with them against oppression, and for their inclusion in the
human community.

The Day of Pentecost is Solidarity Sunday. We need to find ways to
express this more fully, more openly, more courageously. We need to
find ways to be Pentecostalists in solidarity, more energetically, in
more fiery and stormy ways that will spread Fire in the Earth.

The Day of Pentecost begins with solidarity in the church--something
we are far from knowing now. Luke's account in the Acts says that
Pentecost doesn't happen until "the disciples were all together in
one place." The unity of the church itself is the prerequisite for
the momentous event which follows. The disciples are together: then
it happens, the rush of mighty winds of change fills the house where
they are sitting. Now sitting is not the usual picture we have of the
church militant. Standing, yes: it's not as militant as marching, but
'twill serve. We stand to give special respect to the gospel lesson,
and we sit to be receptive and attentive to lectio divina and to
preaching. In some churches, there's more calisthenics at the
liturgy--and some pentecostalists are called holy rollers for their
exertion and breath-taking aerobics. But Luke says his pentecostalism
sits down. Sitting, as we do in Quaker meetings, to wait upon the
Spirit. (Early Quakers, however, were not so named for sitting
quietly and pinching the bridges of their noses with heads bowed.
They quaked, as in earth-quake.) We sit to be instructed, to learn of
our commonality, to share a meal, to chat over a coffee table, to
exchange, to watch and wait. Then comes the pentecostal gift of
solidarity, the wind of change.

The second feature is the fire. We are accustomed to wanting our
religion air-conditioned to coolness. Your home thermostat doubtless
has the decal that says "between 68 and 72 degrees is comfort range".
Holy Spirit does not confine herself to "comfort range", but gets
incendiary, like Managua in May, hot. The same gigantic temperatures
that can melt down a Chernobyl and burn into the earth's core can
melt the earth away. The fire of Pentecost will not submit itself to
our controls, for it is the burning energy of God's own life and God
who is in charge distributes the energy so that it comes to rest (not
to attack) each receptive learner. What results is communication, not
censorship; speech, not silence; courage, not timorousness. Even in a
Quaker meeting, the Spirit leads to testimony, to inspired utterance.
The technology of your Selected President George W. Bush's endless
wars will not save. The Psalmist sings, "A government is not saved by
a great army, nor a warrior delivered by great strength; no one can
trust a horse to save him." Nor a burro.

It is the Spirit that fills the disciples and connects people from
every nation under heaven. The pentecostal language is not the tongue
of angels, nor the Double Dutch of glossalalia which St.
Saulos/Paulos so adroitly put in its place as a minor gift, in his
letter to the Corinthian "crazy-matics". The languages of Pentecost
are identified as Persian, Greek, Egyptian, and Arabic--human speech,
but diverse, not imperialist. Some Libyans that day heard Judeans
making sense, some Italians heard the same gospel as Ethiopians. The
miracle of Pentecost was not cacophany ("ka ka sounds") but the
mutual understanding of human language and culture by people from
other human cultures, with other languages. The Blessed Pneuma
started it: has the Church picked up that Fireball and run with it?
Most American believers make not much effort to learn the language of
others. Millions of students in Russia study English, and something
like 25,000 students in the U.S. study Russian. I've taught English
in Nicaragua for a dozen years, and folks are glad to learn the
language of a world empire, so they can cope with  the Empire.  . But
the children of the empire couldn't ask toilet paper in Latin
America, or even in Spanish Harlem.

Pentecost is about drinking of the same Spirit, listening to the same
gospel, speaking and singing the same Joy. Communication is both the
means and the gift of solidarity, and it begins with listening.
Listen to other people, other cultures, other voices. Solidarity
means that there are varieties of gifts but the same Spirit. That's
what Saulos/Paulos told the Corinthians, who thought the main thing
was their own ecstasy--and he put it far below the first gift,
Wisdom. Wisdom preaching: telling about God's life in us, what he
called "perfect teaching." Saulos/Paulos says he was once himself a
crazy-matic, caught up to the Seventh Heaven in ecstasy, but says he
cannot (indeed, should not) talk about it, but about gifts that can
be shared in solidarity. He says that yes, there is a kind of Private
Trip religion that is authentic, but it's best kept to oneself. If it
can't somehow be translated into Common Prayer, Common Good, then in
solidarity sub-ordinate it; that is, order it below. There can be no
priority for show-boating, and no race or class or gender
distinctions in Christ.

Philip asks, "Rabbi Yeshua, please show us the Father and we shall be
satisfied." And Yeshua replies, "Philip, I've been with you such a
long time and you haven't yet figured out my solidarity with the
Father-Mother of us all?" Jesus claimed for his own teaching that it
was in solidarity with God's own Wisdom. "I will pray the
Father-Mother who will give you another Counsellor" who is the
Teacher, an instructor in the Wisdom that Paul so highly values, the
facilitator that Luke sees in the fiery gifts of Pentecost, come to
walk in solidarity beside us.

John declares the world cannot receive such a Spirit. By "world" John
means the world as it organizes itself against God, as it organizes
itself against the human community, the world as it continues to
organize itself against itself, the world of obfuscation, of
self-seeking, nationalism, denominationalism, the world of Me First,
the world of Me and Mine. This "world" cannot receive the Spirit of

Because the Spirit of Truth is the Spirit of Solidarity, of One Human
community, One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church: One Lord, One
Faith, One Baptism, One God and Father-Mother of us all. Solidarity
for ever. Amen.

Apartado RP-10