Good Morning church, (ASL) Dzien dobry (Polish), Buenos dias (Spanish), Nyado delek (Tibetan), Endermen aderkh (armarhic), Bari Luys (Armenian), Kali Mera (Greek), Shubh Prabhat (Hindi). I have just announce good morning or good day in several languages those languages were ( as listed above)…. But what has that to with today??
Today is Pentecost Sunday and one of the most common stories of todays is when the Apostles started to come out of the “upper room” speaking and the story in acts says each heard them in their own tongue.
“When Pentecost Day arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound from heaven like the howling of a fierce wind filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be individual flames of fire alighting on each one of them. 4 They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak.
5 There were pious Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd gathered. They were mystified because everyone heard them speaking in their native languages. “(acts 2:1-7)
“For the Apostles, it must have felt like creation all over again, with wind and fire, and something new bursting forth. Then there was the amazing linguistic experience of speaking in other languages yet being understood by people of many different languages and lands, the names of which represented the known world at that time and have caused no small anxiety to worship leaders in every time.
No matter: in that moment, all the people were one in their hearing, if not their understanding of the deeper meaning of what they heard. Despite their differences, they could all hear what the disciples were saying, each in their own language.
Fire, wind, and humble Galileans speaking persuasively in many tongues were dramatic signs that God was doing a new thing that would transform the lives of all those present, and far beyond, in time and place”
How confusing and yet miraculous this must have been for not only were the apostles blessed by the spirit so that they each could speak other languages all those other people heard them speaking each in their own tongue, so the spirit must have overflowed and enabled the hearers to truly hear.
Todays Gospel reading Jesus is foretelling of the comforter to come. Jesus even says to the ones he loves it is to your advantage that I must leave…who must be thinking really to my advantage …I don’t want you to go… I love you…I want you to stay…
But Jesus explains if I go I can send the comforter and when the comforter arrives the comforter will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and Judgement.
Oh I think the spirit is still teaching the world that she is wrong about sin, Judgement and righteousness.
Jesus says when the spirit of truth comes, the spirit of truth will guide you to all truth….
Note Jesus did not say right away…Jesus did not say that once the truth is revealed through the comforter to humankind that it will be that we understand it all because if through the spirit we could understand it all…if we really got it all…would this world be in the same condition we are in??
I mean if we truly understood that Jesus teachings of love, community, open table would this world be the way it is?
Would our human history still be so violent?
In the spirit of truth and Christ’s love
Wouldn’t the cast system would be gone…there would be no rich or poor…no higher or lower…no free or slave…and yet all that is still operating in this world.
For 2000 years the spirit has been guiding us into the truth and I am happy to say we have been fighting it kicking and screaming all the way…when I say we, I mean humanity…
There was an article written by our conference minister this week that :
“What would it feel like for us to put ourselves in the shoes of another person? What if we spent more time envisioning what it would be like if we were the ones experiencing injustice, abuse, bullying, and oppression?
I read an article this past Tuesday, April 15, which was the 70th anniversary of the Nakba. Nakba means “catastrophe” in Arabic and refers to the day that 700,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were expelled from their home in the 1948 Palestine war. The author of the article, Catherine Alder, is a member of the UCC Palestine Israel Network (PIN) and lives in Oregon. Her “What If? “article asked us to imagine what it would be like if the State of Oregon was suddenly designated as the place for hundreds of thousands of persons in trouble in Europe to come to live and what if those already living there were forced out of their homes as a result. … She goes on to paint a picture of what the Palestinians have endured in their own region and asked us to imagine what it would be like if the same events were to have happened in Oregon.
As I read the article my immediate reaction was, “No way, would we stand for this.” We would fight back and demand justice and reparation for the people of Oregon. We can clearly see the injustice in forcefully removing a people who own homes and have established their lives in the community. We would stand up and speak out for the people of Oregon to be restored to their rightful place.
When we put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, we are able to see things so much more clearly.
What happens if we found more and more ways to imagine the “what ifs?” in our society?
What if you someone who was born in this country were to put yourself in the position of an immigrant family who has lived in this country for over a decade and for whom this may be the only home your children know? Perhaps you have tried every possible way to become a legal citizen in a system that doesn’t allow for that to happen. How confusing would it be for you to now be told you don’t belong here and there is no way for you to make it legal?
What if I, as a white mother, were to put myself in the position of a black or brown mother with a young adult son? Can I imagine what it would be like to worry every day if I have done a good enough job teaching my son how to stay safe and what to do if he’s pulled over by the police? And, if I am part of one of the many households struggling to make ends meet, how can I balance more than one job while also making sure I can put a meal on the table and find time to partner with my children and their teacher to insure they receive the best education possible and every opportunity to succeed?
If we are able to imagine what it would be like for us to live in situations very different from anything we have ever experienced I believe we are more motivated to stand up against abuse, violence, oppression and injustice that we see happening to other people. When we hear stories of injustices experienced by others we may try to rationalize what we hear and explain how there must be something we don’t know or understand. But when we imagine those same injustices happening to us we are able to see and feel how wrong it is and, I hope, be willing to do something. After all, if we know it’s not right for us why would we believe it was ok for anyone else?”
This is what it means to be guided into truth by the spirit…A challenge for us …to imagine what it means to be the other…the other person…the other race. The other who is oppressed, abused, denied, cajoled, expelled, imprisoned, beaten and yes even killed for be what they believe or just for being who they are.
Are book group had a very hard read these past two months where a black man who was born into poverty who has been an ordained minister for 35 years and is a professor of sociology at Georgetown speaks of his experience. The title is Tears we cannot stop: a sermon to White Americ. Dr Michael Eric Dyson tells of experiences that are hard…he speaks from pain and yes even anger it will passionately stir up some thoughts ..I know it did for me.
Chapter 6 is titled Benediction subtitled responsive…but that is not a word for there is a period between each letter it is an acronym R.E.S.P.O.S.I.V.E. First asks for the R reparations and he admits it is hard to understand and that politically it may be impossible to bring about but individually we can even if it is a msall donation to a scholarship or perhaps making we support places that have fair hiring practices and just pay.
He asks that we Educate our selves around black life and literacy he says “Racial literacy is as necessary as it is undervalued.” There is something we should try to do and try to do often not just with black America but with all the rich cultures that surround us.
The next letter is S which he says “you must not only read about black life, but you must School your white brothers and sisters your cousins and uncles your loved ones and friends and anyone who will listen to you, about the white elephant in the room…white privilege”..i am gcoming back to this in just a second or 5
The next letter was P, participation. Go to rallies, prayer meetings, protests and community meetings anywhere you can make a difference.
Then he asks us to use the letter S speak up speak up against injustice
One issue he reminds us with the letter I is the distinction between Immigrant experience and the Black American experience though they over lap we need to learn there is a difference
The V in responsive is Visit he says to visit schools, jails and churches of the three he says “visiting a black church is just good for your soul. The best black churches do many of the things religious folk should be doing if they are concerned about the poor and the lost.”
And the final E is about walking in some one shoes for that moment he says “All of what I said should lead you to empathy. It sounds simple, but its benefits are profound.”
The Holy spirit shall lead you truth…National geographic has a series by Katie Couric and she went to a university where she took the privilege walk they only showed a clip but I decided as the final aprt of this reflection to read you the activity just imagine yourself doing this
The following is the complete set of questions from the classroom version of this activity.
If your ancestors were forced to come to the USA not by choice, take one step back.
If your primary ethnic identity is "American," take one step forward.
If you were ever called names because of your race, class, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, take one step back.
If there were people who worked for your family as servants, gardeners, nannies, etc. take one step forward.
If you were ever ashamed or embarrassed of your clothes, house, car, etc. take one step back.
If one or both of your parents were "white collar" professionals: doctors, lawyers, etc. take one step forward.
If you were raised in an area where there was prostitution, drug activity, etc., take one step back.
If you ever tried to change your appearance, mannerisms, or behavior to avoid being judged or ridiculed, take one step back.
If you studied the culture of your ancestors in elementary school, take one step forward.
If you went to school speaking a language other than English, take one step back.
If there were more than 50 books in your house when you grew up, take one step forward.
If you ever had to skip a meal or were hungry because there was not enough money to buy food when you were growing up, take one step back.
If you were taken to art galleries or plays by your parents, take one step forward.
If one of your parents was unemployed or laid off, not by choice, take one step back.
If you have health insurance take one step forward.
If you attended private school or summer camp, take one step forward.
If your family ever had to move because they could not afford the rent, take one step back.
If you were told that you were beautiful, smart and capable by your parents, take one step forward.
If you were ever discouraged from academics or jobs because of race, class, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, take one step back.
If you were encouraged to attend college by your parents, take one step forward.
If you have a disability take one step backward.
If you were raised in a single parent household, take one step back.
If your family owned the house where you grew up, take one step forward.
If you saw members of your race, ethnic group, gender or sexual orientation portrayed on television in degrading roles, take one step back.
If you own a car take one step forward.
If you were ever offered a good job because of your association with a friend or family member, take one step forward.
If you were ever denied employment because of your race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, take one step back.
If you were paid less, treated less fairly because of race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, take one step back.
If you were ever accused of cheating or lying because of your race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, take one step back.
If you ever inherited money or property, take one step forward.
If you had to rely primarily on public transportation, take one step back.
If you attended private school at any point in your life take one step forward.
If you were ever stopped or questioned by the police because of your race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, take one step back.
If you were ever afraid of violence because of your race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, take one step back.
If your parents own their own business take one step forward.
If you were generally able to avoid places that were dangerous, take one step forward.
If you were ever uncomfortable about a joke related to your race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation but felt unsafe to confront the situation, take one step back.
If you use a TDD Phone system take one step backward.
If you were ever the victim of violence related to your race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, take one step back.
Imagine you are in a relationship, if you can get married in the State of ___ take one step forward
If your parents did not grow up in the United States, take one step back.
If your parents attended college take one step forward.
If your parents told you that you could be anything you wanted to be, take one step forward.
If you are able to take a step forward or backward take two steps forward.
Todays is the churches birthday we are called to continue the work of Gods truth that we are all create din the image of God and not one of us are living in a just world for all…nope not yet…it is through the spirit we called to get this work done…so though we may celebrate to day and to day is the sabbath a day fo rest the other times we should be seeking out the opportunity to work for fair wage for fair pay…to work with sanctuary or the dreamers…engage in the new poor peoples campaign seek out how we can walk with the other…and do what we can to bring about the Just world for all that we seek.
 Dyson, Michael Eric. Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America. New York: St. Martins Press, 2017. P199
 Ditto 209
 Ditto 210