Hello there, my brothers and sisters and spiritual family people.
Welcome to our next series. For this introduction, bear with me. I am going to need to share some basic principles for you to follow. So, we’re going to do a bit of theological education. Sorry about that. You might find this introduction a bit dry. And I hope that as you go further into this series, you’ll see that it was worth the effort to review a few things.
Overall, this series is going to take on the form of a study. By that I mean that I won’t be giving you true to life stories. Because in this series, the true to life story that you will be hearing will be your story. By the end of it, I hope you will have arrived at some stated goals that are a product of your intuition inspired by G_D. We’ll get to this piece about goals at the end of this reflection.
But before we go further, did you see what I did there? I left out the vowel “o” in G_d’s name. From the get go, this is an important thing to explore – especially if you are going to get the most out of this study. I’m wanting us to, as the title says, make our souls available to become un-stuck. And for that to happen, we’ve got to loosen our grip on some things, starting with what we may think we know about G_D in order for us to grow in our relationship to G_D.
This idea, the one about letting go about G_D, is biblical by the way. And it is ironic. Ironic because, as you will see, the lesson is confirmation that we humans can be a pretty stubborn lot, often ignoring our own best advice even. That is how we get stuck in the first place. So, let’s get this lesson out of the way, shall we?
Throughout the ages of the whole world, there have been many names for G_D. Among them there is, for example, Lord, G_D, The Almighty, Father in Heaven, Abba and the more open ended I AM and I AM WHO I AM. (And that only scratches the surface by the way. Maybe we should do series called “What’s in a Name?”, but I digress). Those last two, I AM and I AM WHO I AM, are the way that G_D introduced G_D’s self to Moses in the desert. The acronym for I AM WHO I AM is – Y, H, W, H. Or, if we add vowels to it – YaH-WeH. Clear so far? Hang in there. We’re almost done with this part.
Here’s the ironic part.
The Moses people thought that G_D’s name should never be truly spoken (which is why I guess there are so many names for G_D). But stubborn as we humans are, once that idea was put in place, presumably agreed upon by the “powers that be”, then people went ahead a put vowels in anyway so that they could cut corners and take the easy way out! It’s like people were more concerned with dotting “i’s” and crossing “t’s” than facing the depth of G_D’s call to them to live lives of substance. The bottom-line lesson is this: For you to grow, to make your soul available, you need to accept that G_D in G_D’s fullness is beyond our human comprehension. What is not beyond your comprehension is your desire to have a relationship to G_D and to appreciate the important place you make for it. That lies within our hands. Every name we give G_D is an expression of a growing relationship. Not because G_D is changing. But because we are. There’s a word for this whole process: Consecration. Remember that word, because it will come back shortly. For now, make room for it and allow yourself to bring many names. There’s actually a hymn in our United Church hymn book that goes by that title – Bring Many Names. It’s about some of the different ways we might relate to G_D. Keep that in mind for here too.
Okay. That’s the first of the lessons for the introduction done. Now, what about the title, The Pentecost Diaries? What’s that all about? That’s a two-part answer. (And from there you should be able to figure out how the subtitle. Making your soul available to become un-stuck fits into the mix.)
I chose the name Diaries because a diary is a collection of life stories that, depending on how you read them, different things come out. There’s no specific lesson in them per se. The lessons are to be found in how you relate to them. In this study then, over next few weeks, I’ll give you a biblical story and some interpretation to get you started. And I’ll give you some questions for self-reflection. After that, you’ll be on your own to be aware of the relationships, with G_D and others, in your life. You’ll have time to really delve into where you feel you ought to be headed. You’ll also have time to face the things that are holding you back. And you’ll be with G_D to make your soul available to become unstuck. That’s part one of the answer. Hope it makes sense.
Now, why Pentecost, besides the fact that Pentecost is approaching? This answer is a little more involved. I’ll try to be brief, and if you have questions, you can call me.
Pentecost in the Christian Bible appears in the book of Acts, chapter 2. I would suggest that you read chapters one and two. Acts is the account of the birth of the new community of followers of Jesus. Notice I did not say “Christian”. Why? Because the term “Christian” did not appear on the scene until perhaps 10 to 15 years after Jesus died. Also, there’s a strong chance that the early followers of the Jesus movement did not use it themselves. Rather, it may likely have been a derogatory slur, not unlike racist slurs of today. Early followers of Jesus are said to have called themselves “Saints”, the biblical definition of which may mean something close to “Being consecrated to G_D”. Remember that I said that word, “consecrated”, would come back. See how I’m encouraging you to make space for you soul be available to become unstuck? Today’s lesson, as it grows, now adds this piece: You need to be intentional about making your soul available. It doesn’t happen on its own. Here’s an image for you: A gift may be offered, but for the gift to be complete, it needs to be accepted. Sit with that for a moment before with look at the Pentecost moment in more detail. (PAUSE)
Pentecost was in fact an existing Jewish holiday that took place 50 days after Passover. It was meant to celebrate the first fruits of the harvest. Jesus used lots of imagery related to the harvest, and maybe that explains why the early church was so attuned to the Pentecost festival in particular. For the followers of Jesus, Pentecost was an incredible time for the early church. It was the moment where the gift of the Holy Spirit, promised by Jesus, was actually offered, and…. accepted. From there, the lesson gets a little complicated, there’s so much imagery and theology in what I just shared about a gift being offered and accepted. Too much for here. And so, I’m going to give you the bottom-line: In the Holy Spirit, we come together in a way where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
- The Holy Spirit comes to the People with Fire 50 days after Passover
- G_D met Moses and his followers in the dessert 50 days after the first Passover where G_D set the Hebrew slaves free. G_D also met Moses as a burning bush in the dessert before the Exodus.
- The people, although speaking different languages, could understand each other.
- At the Tower of Babel, G_D dispersed the people of the world into confusion by creating different languages. G_D did this because the people kept relying on their own wisdom, which continually caused pain and hardship. (Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah’s Ark)
- People were being “saved”.
- I’d invite you to see the parallel between the liberation of the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt and the use of the word “salvation” here. Two things are at play. A way of being that ties to the depths of creation and eternity. An immediate impact on people’s ability to become “un-stuck”. This liberation is not about geography but about spirituality.
- The people were living in harmony and in abundance in spite of all their outward differences.
- The sustaining life meant to be in the Garden of Eden is being restored.
Back, then to the whole title. What does the title The Pentecost Diaries mean?
It means that, when we lose our way, when we are stuck, it is in inviting G_D into our stories that we find our perspective. The more regularly we do this, the less stuck we are. Does this mean that nothing bad will happen to us? No. Not everything in our lives is within our control and bad things happen. Does this mean that we will be spotless and never falter? No, we are human and that is why we are called to be consecrated to G_D by the Holy Spirit. Why is that? G_D only knows. It’s just the way it is.
And how will we explore this during our study?
Like a diary, we will allow the stories I will share to come together for us by relying on the Holy Spirit to feed us, to inspire us, rather than trying to nail down an interpretation. One might object to this, saying that there is no certainty for us. One might say that life becomes a series of random events. And I would offer that the Pentecost moment suggests otherwise – that what appears to be random and reasons to be divided is a human mirage. With the Spirit, that real and yet undefined presence of G_D, we see the deeper, soul seeded, connection to things, and things have more meaning. It is perhaps not so much that everything happens for a reason as perhaps that out of every experience, positive or challenging, there is a live giving lesson for us; like soul food. For your soul to become un-stuck, it needs to be fed with good food – first fruits of the harvest. (For bible types, note that in Romans 8, that Paul says that we obtain the first fruits of the Spirit).
So, I am going to stop there, and invite you again to read Acts, chapters 1 and 2. If you don’t have a bible handy, www.biblegateway.com is a great resource.
And now – here are your questions for self reflection. I would suggest that before you delve into them, sit in silence, go for walk, do the dishes, or whatever you do to unhook your mind. Be mindful about your mind being connected to your body, just as your soul is connected to G_D. Make space and room for that. Declutter. And then, don’t over think it. Trust your intuition as you reflect. Keep the answers close to you for the rest of the study. You’ll be going back to them over the next six weeks.
- What are one or two things that are within your grasp that you know you would like to get to but haven’t?
- How much are you beating yourself up (negative self-talk) about this?
- What excuses are you making to convince yourself that it’s not worth the effort?
- When was the last time you spent time with G_D about your life?
- Regardless of when that was, yesterday or ten years ago, what was that experience like for you? (And if the answer is that you’ve never spent time with G_D about your life, what’s it like for you right now?)
That’s it for the introduction. You made it! Hard part is over. See you next week with our first story.
In the meantime, Be Blessed. Be a Blessing. Amen.