Pentecost Sunday: The Celebration of our Plurality

Homily – Sunday, the 5th June 2022

Come Holy Spirit: Set Us Free from our Prejudices

Human relationships are a web of love. We are nothing without each other. Life is too precious to be left for anxiety and worrying. Life is too short we do not have enough time to LOVE and the greatest motivation that helps us celebrate LOVE is the Spirit of Love that stays withing us. We might call it the Holy Spirit. We could call it by any other name in our own languages. And today our prayer is Come Holy Spirit Set Us Free from our Prejudices.

It is said, Prejudices confuses the past, threatens the future, and renders the present inaccessible. The weight the burdens of prejudices of the past leaves on us, the walls that prejudices build around us and the ruins prejudices predict for the future are beyond what we truly comprehend. That adds to the intensity of the prayer- Come Holy Spirit- Set us free from our prejudices

  • Celebration of Pentecost

I am one person who loves festivals. They are occasions for communities to celebrate God’s gifts and the memories of their journey together. Pentecost was originally a Harvest Festival. Fifty days after the first sheeves they would come together in the presence of God to thank God for the gift of Food.

Friends there are several things that we take for granted and one of the most precious ones is food.

We are called to celebrate even when we sip a cup of tea

Lee Tsu Pheng from Singapore wrote a wonderful poem

There’s too Much to do, so much going Wrong,

And Most of the Time You Struggle to be Strong,

Before it’s too Late and it’s time to Go,

Sip your Tea Nice and Slow.

Some Friends stay, others Go away,

Loved ones are Cherished but not all will Stay.

Kids will Grow up and Fly away.

There’s really no Saying how Things will Go,

So sip your Tea Nice and Slow.

Life is too Short but feels pretty Long,

On Pentecost Day while we thank the Lord for being the Bread from Heaven to satiate our spiritual hunger today is also a day wherein we thank God for FOOD and sustenance.

Hundred days through the War in Ukraine ask a person amidst the bombing in Kiev what Food means to them today!

Friends, “Food is a social marker. Used positively, it demonstrates belonging to a group, and negatively it provides a justification for discrimination.”

More so food is a social necessity. Globally, about 8.9% of the world’s population — 690 million people — go to bed on an empty stomach each night. 

Let us today open our ears and eyes to the hunger around us!! That is Pentecost.

  • Celebration of the Promises

Of the many promises Jesus Christ gave to his disciples several were around the Holy Spirit. Jesus knew that he had to go the Father and also knew that he could not leave his disciples without a Comforter. I would pick five promises around the Holy Spirit.

  • Paraklete– The one who comes by when called. It comes from two words para- meaning to be beside and kaleu meaning to call. Literally it means the one who comes beside when we call. Across time several words were used to convey this idea, the Advocate, the Helper, the Comforter, the Co-sojourner. The idea is simple the Holy Spirit is a Companion.

Friends, loneliness is a tearing apart experience.

“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.”(― F. Scott Fitzgerald)

It is in such moments that we experience the consoling presence of the Holy Spirit.

  • Pathway– Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would lead the disciples to all truth. This would include Truth about – Who is Christ? Why should we be connected to Christ? and what happens when our lives are rooted and grounded in Christ. The Quest for Truth happens around us in multi-faceted ways and the Holy Spirit is the guide to the Truth
  • Presence– When Christ was leaving his presence was not. Christ chose the beats of the hearts of the people to make his dwelling and the promise was that the Holy Spirit would dwell within them. See the shift, to be beside, to be with and now to be in a person. The Holy Spirit signifies the continuing presence of the Divine in our lives.
  • Purifier. The Holy Spirit is a Purifier. The Spirit functions as a Constant Reminder: of the realities of Sin, Righteousness and Judgement. What must be done, what must not be done and what would be the consequences. (King and his Ring)
  • Peace. When the Holy Spirit dwells within Christ promised the Peace that no one would ever be able to take away. Yes, peace comes from within when the Holy Spirit makes the abode within us.

  • Celebration of the Prophesies

3000 years ago God revealed God’s dreams through prophet Joel. In Acts 2:17 Peter reminds us of this. “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.

I would raise four questions

Do we realise that the Spirit is poured on ALL people. There is no one excluded. To break down our prejudices we must get this straight into our very being- God has no partiality.

Today do our sons and daughters prophesy? The historian is a prophet looking backwards and the prophet is the one who has the inner eye to see where history is heading to, the destruction to which all are heading due to the greed of a few. June 5 is also World Environment Day. The Power Hungry through cladestine wars are forcing us to live with Carbon Di Oxide. We are not created to live so.

Do our young people see visions? Vision is being able to see how you want the future to be so that you could have a plan of action to reach there. Where is this word heading to is a very important question all of us need to ask. But where do you want the world to head to. Do you really want to be participants in the making of the future of God is the pertinent question

Do our elderly ones see dreams? Blessed is the society that has the wisdom and patience to listen to the dreams of the elderly. Those dreams evolve from experience and expectation and always comes with practical guidelines to reaching there. But we are too busy to even bother about those dreams

That will be exactly what the holy spirit will continue to do.

Beyond prejudices our generations will prophesy, see visions and dream dreams

  • Celebration of the Parity

When we talk of dreams, one of the biggest dreams is that of equality and dignity of humanity. Martin Luther King shared his dream as we have known- Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

Well our prejudices make this a distant dream still but take a close look at what happened on the day of Pentecost

  1. The rush of the same wind descended on all people- there was no discrimination
  2. The tongue of fire was on every person- no one excluded. Remember the tongue of fire was the symbol of the Emperor and now descending on everyone alike despite their differences
  3. The filling of everyone with the Holy Spirit. Take a close look again the Spirit desecend on everyone in the room- whoever they were

Friends, in God all are equal. That is what the spirit divine keeps reminding us

  • Celebration of Plurality

We specially note two aspects of the experience of the spirt

  1. Multiplicity of Nationalities and Languages present in the room
  2. Each one understanding in their own language

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,[b] 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

Look at the languages we use at this worship service today. English, German, French, Latin, Spanish, Danish, Malayalam, Hindi, Greek, Russian, Arabic, Twi, fante, Dutch, Korean, Zulu, Tamil, Xhosa, Yoruba, Latin, Ukranian, the list goes on

It is our prejudices that often stand in the way of our celebrating our multiplicity and plurality.

  • Celebration of Purpose

As we conclude please note the Holy Spirit provides

  1. A New Beginning
  2. A New Power
  3. A New Direction
  4. A New Mission

If you recall the story of the Lion King that influenced a generation so strongly there is an interesting part in the story

It’s just after the two cubs Simba and Nala visit the elephant graveyard which is outside of the pride lands, and they run into some trouble with the hyenas whose land it is. King Mufasa comes to the rescue of the two cubs, and brings them to safety, Nala is then taken home and the two royals, king and future king are left to talk. Mufasa uses this moment as a teachable one, his fear of losing his cub, and the child trying to be brave like his father… the cub then defuses the situation by saying no one was more scared than the hyenas. As the music starts the cub asks his father, Dad… we’re pals right… Right … and we’re always gonna be together right? At this point Mufasa looks up at the starts in the African night sky and starts to sing

And a voice with the fear of a child answers

Look there is no mountain too great

Hear the words and have faith

And the promise is

He Lives in You

He Lives in Me

Night and the Spirit of Life Calling

Let us reflect on what we heard as listen to Mufasa through new eyes today and pray

Come Holy Spirit, Save us from our prejudices

Vinod Victor

June 5, 2022

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