Day of Pentecost Devotional
Genesis 11, John 14
Lectionary Text for Day of Pentecost:
Genesis 11:1-9: “Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as they migrated from the east, they came upon a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 And they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.’ And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.’ 5 The LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built. 6 And the LORD said, ‘Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.’ 8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9Therefore it was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.
John 14:8-17, 25-27: “8 Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ 9 Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
15 ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
25 ‘I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
Day of Pentecost Devotional Comment: I have been reading (along with a Bible Study group) a book entitled, The Holy Longing: The Search for A Christian Spirituality, by Ronald Rolheiser. The first sentence of the preface reads, “This is a book for you if you are struggling spiritually.” The class and I have found clear ways of acknowledging, defining and finding purpose in our spiritual struggles as we read and discuss the contents of this book.
For this meditation, I would like to share two insights I received from this book. One, the mystery of the incarnation can only become valid in our lives when we accept that is was not an event locked in time over 2000 years ago. Rolheiser writes, “Where it is wrong (an attitude of limited incarnation) is that it gives the impression that the incarnation was a thirty-year experiment, a one-shot incursion by God into human history…God came to earth physically and then, after thirty-three years, went back home.” (chap. 4, p 76)
Two, it helps to understand that the Pascal mystery, or the mystery of suffering has purpose! “The paschal mystery…is a process of transformation within which we are given both new life and new spirit. It begins with suffering and death, moves on to the reception of new life, spends some time grieving the old and adjusting to the new, and finally, only after the old life has been truly let go of is new spirit given for the life we are already living.” (chap. 7, 147,148)
The author gives practical model, which he calls a “paschal cycle” to help us view our experiences of suffering in a way that is filled with hope. It is as follows:
- Good Friday ... "the loss of life-real death": name you ‘deaths’, of time and dreams and relationships.
- Easter Sunday . . . "the reception of new life": claim your births
- The Forty Days ... "a time for readjustment to the new and for grieving the old": to grieve your losses.
- Ascension... “letting go of the old and letting it bless you, the refusal to cling": ascend to new blessings.
- Pentecost . . . "the reception of new spirit for the new life that one is already living": accept the spirit of life that you are in fact living!”
As we celebrate Pentecost Sunday, both Scripture texts come together. In John 14, Jesus promises that when he leaves the Holy Spirit will come to lead the believer into all truth. There will be a common language as mentioned in Genesis 11. For the believer it is the language and behavior of love. It is true that ‘loss’ imposes itself in our lives. But, by the power of the Holy Spirit we can follow the “paschal cycle” model in our ‘seasons of struggle’, daily if necessary. In this process, the Holy Spirit will send someone, “an incarnation” of Jesus with the right word, the right intervention at the right time.
Come Holy Spirit, You who circle the seasons with ease, teach us in Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter that as surely as there is a “Good Friday,” there is also “a Day of Pentecost” promising life beyond our wildest dreams. AMEN
©May 21, 2010
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