Preparing for Worship: 5/31/2020

Reflection from Pastor Amy

“I can’t breathe.” George Floyd’s words spoken in the moments before his death ring in my ears in these days leading up to Pentecost Sunday, the festival when we mark the gift of the Holy Spirit to Christ’s church. In scripture, the Holy Spirit is often experienced as breath, wind, or air, reminding us the Spirit of Christ is as near as our breath. When we can’t breathe or when our neighbors can’t breathe, it is God’s own Spirit which is being silenced and stilled.

The news has reminded us again what sorrow, grief, and anger is born when breath is purposely withheld – whether by force or disease. Over the last two months, we have learned again what power and potential danger our breath carries. Filled with this knowledge, out of care and concern for ourselves, and extending love for the most vulnerable among us, we have suspended our usual activities and adopted new practices. We wear masks and physically distance ourselves from others, all in order to minimize the shared air we breathe. Like the disciples in Sunday’s gospel, we find ourselves these days gathered behind closed doors, in enclosed spaces, only mingling with the most intimate gatherings of family.

So much in our lives right now reminds us that the air we breathe matters. But the very same air that can carry deadly disease is also capable of carrying God’s Holy Spirit! And that Spirit-filled breath, given to us in our baptism into Christ, is not limited by the walls that surround us, by the masks that protect our neighbors, or by the practices we adopt in order to extend our love. The stories of Pentecost from both Acts and John remind us that God’s Spirit of truth and life will penetrate all barriers we place in its way in order to enter and fill us!

This Pentecost, I place my hope in the good news that God’s Spirit will not be bound: not by closed doors, not by confined spaces, not by attempts to stop its flow. No! The breath of God comes even now teaching us that the air we breathe is spirit-filled! Teaching us that the freedom to breathe clean, fresh, unobstructed air is just! Teaching us that preserving and sustaining the breath of our neighbors is righteous! Teaching us to proclaim God’s deeds of power on our breath and in our actions as we embody God’s abundant life and love!

~ Pastor Amy

A note about Sunday: The color for the work of the Spirit in Christ’s church is always red! Consider gathering red flowers or red balloons in your worship space at home, wear your favorite red t-shirt, or bring the attached coloring sheet with you as we gather on Sunday to give thanks and praise for the gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives! As is the practice at Bethlehem, we will celebrate Confirmation this Pentecost Sunday. This is not the way any of us prefer to celebrate on Sunday – all in our own spaces and separated – but in upholding Olivia, Elizabeth, Katy, Sam and Paige as they (and us) affirm their faith on Sunday, we witness to the God’s deeds of power alive in these young people and active in our world! Be sure to read their biographies in this week’s Star, hold them in your prayers in the coming days, and if you’re able, reach out to them with a card or note to extend your blessing to them! In doing this we nurture the seeds of hope growing in this community of faith

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