The Foothold of Faith

A sermon based on Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22 and Ephesians 2:1-10 preached on June 11th, 2017

Sermon audio

Hobby wind-surfer, Adam Cowles, realized he was way off-course when he spotted a cargo ship. He was windsurfing the Swansea Bay, not too far from his house, but after a few hours of delightful distraction, Adam found himself in strange territory. He had unwittingly made his way into the Bristol Channel, 140 miles away from home.

The water that day was freezing cold. If he fell in, he’d be in serious trouble. If there came a lull in the wind, Adam could have found himself stranded. Opposite the cargo ship, Adam could see land, so he surfed his way to shore and walked into a nearby bar, soaking wet.

The locals must have seen sights like him before, because even though he was still dripping wet when he walked into that pub, the patrons thought and said nothing of it. They even bought him a beer.

Adam began to tell them his story.

They told him how far away from home he was. 140 miles. He was astonished. And then he was embarrassed when he had to call his wife, asking her to make the 280-mile round trip to pick him up. She was not happy.

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Wind is so prevalent inside of scripture that one could easily call it a character. A living force rather than an object or an atmospheric phenomenon.

God shows up in the beginning of the opening act, in the very first lines of our story in Genesis 1, as wind. This is the form in which the Spirit of God makes way into creation, and then helps creation take its shape out of what was before simply chaos and nonsense. The second verse in all of scripture says it this way:

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

This is how God shows up. In a breeze. And that happens over and over again throughout God’s story—our story, too.

Consider the moment of the Exodus, when the Hebrew people, enslaved for two centuries in Egypt, make their way across the Red Sea and to the other side, outrunning Pharaoh and his army and into freedom. The Sea was split in two that day by a strong eastward wind.

And then there’s Jonah, the stubborn prophet, who tried his best to outrun God after God asked him to do something that made no sense to him. Throughout the Book of Jonah, he’s stopped, over and over again, to the point where it gets comedic, by wind and sea, by whale and wave.

We try our best but there’s no escaping the Spirit of God.

There’s at least two stories in each of the four Gospels, where fisherman disciples are out on a boat on the Galilee Sea. Terrified by brewing storms and rising waters, Jesus comes to calm the waves and the rain and brings them through. These are messages for us about how when we are caught in the scary seas of our own lives, when the water rises too high all around us, Jesus comes to us and subsides our fears and says to us the same thing he said to His disciples in those moments:

Peace be with you.

Last and certainly not least is the story we have in the Book of Acts where Luke gives us a glimpse of Paul’s travelogue. To get to the churches he has planted, Paul and his own team of disciples, servants, doctors, and scribes cross the Mediterranean Sea and sail up the Aegean between present-dayPaul Turkey and Greece, and north into the Sea of Marmara. Some of these voyages brought disaster. Pirates, shipwreck. Loss of cargo and loss of life. Throughout scripture, water and wind give life but they also take it away.

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dSo when Paul writes from a prison in Rome to the young believers in Ephesus—and by extension, to us—he has been wind-tossed, beat up, lost at sea, and then found again. Paul knows a thing or two about what it is to be blown about by wind. And he warns us, right at the get-go, here at the very beginning of Chapter 2,

Do not be blown about by the wind. Once you lived your entire lives wandering off-course in this perverse world….You were the offspring of the prince of the power of the air. He once owned you and controlled you.

I don’t know what kind of devil you believe in. We talk so little about evil and its personifications. Certainly, the personification of evil into some being with the proper name, Satan, is not as much a creature found in scripture as it is one that has been imagined in the tales of subsequent works of fiction: Dante’s Inferno and John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost. We need to keep our stories straight.

We’ll talk more about this when we reach Chapter 4 of Ephesians, but for now, suffice it to say, here Paul describes some sort of evil or persuasive power, but he doesn’t give it a name or a form. It’s as if Paul is describing that thing mentioned in the first two verses of Genesis 1, a sort of earthly chaos, life and creation without shape, or meaning, or form. Life without God. That is a sort of evil in and of itself.

Paul is warning us against living in a way that’s uncritical, where we get swept up by the power of the air, picked up by every breeze that comes our way. Life lived empty and persuadable, easily manipulated by anything and everything around us. We can get picked up and pushed around wherever the breeze takes us, like that empty plastic bag at the beginning of the movie American Beauty. This is the prince of the power of the air. This is an opportunistic presence that will sweep us off our feet any chance it gets.

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We live in a culture full of wind-blown people. Too often, we get caught up in the prevailing winds of our day, and before we know it we’re like that empty plastic bag that gets knocked around by forces both visible and invisible. We get taken anywhere it pushes us.

What Paul is inviting all of us to see is a new way to live and move. Paul’s words here are a sort of prelude to the important and biblical idea of living in but not of the world. We cannot be blown about. Persuadable. Pushed about. We must find our footing. We must be discerning, keen, wise, sharp, perceptive, insightful, critical. You’ve heard the phrase,

If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for everything.

This is God’s way of saying a similar thing. Find your footing.

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Paul knew something about wind. He was a tentmaker.

These days, if a person calls him- or herself a tentmaker, there’s a good chance they’re a Pastor who specializes in creating new churches. Paul did that, but before he ever entered into the ministry he actually made tents. This is how he made a living, even while he sailed the seas, planting churches.

So, Paul knew a thing of two about wind. How to shelter oneself against it. How to build a structure that can withstand it. Build them strong, resilient, and with a big footprint so they hold up to the power of the air and the elements. Everything thrown at it.

As we mature in our faith, as we walk forward slowly in the Way of Jesus, following in His footsteps, we too become strong against the breezes that try to blow us off course.

It is with rope and ground pegs, poles and stakes that a tent becomes secure even in the most chaotic of climates. It’s the power of God’s grace that does the same thing for our minds, our hearts, our spirits. God’s grace pins us to solid ground, can keep us from being blown off course. Grace is the foothold of our faith.

I mentioned a few weeks ago when we began our look into Ephesians, that God’s grace given to us is not an end in itself. Grace is not the end of any conversation, as in, “but for the grace of God go I.” Grace is always the beginning of the conversation. Grace was in the wind that blew the disciples out of their tiny house on Pentecost, and it’s the power we have been given by God to walk out of here and do God’s work—in and for the world.

Grace is the fuel, the power source God gives us to start something—to go out from here, or wherever else we are, as agents of God’s love, as keepers of God’s Message, as sharers of God’s mercy. Grace is designed and given to us by God to take us places. It is first unmerited benefit, yes; but it’s also Divine enablement. Grace is given to us to get us going!

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Through grace, we gain a foothold in our faith, stand up tall in Christ, and then become agents of grace—taking it and using it. Paul writes,

For it is by grace you have been saved. You have received it through faith. It was not our plan or effort, it’s God’s gift. Pure and simple. You didn’t earn it.

That’s verse 8. It’s one of the most beloved in all of scripture, but I’m afraid it’s too often misunderstood. People use it to convince themselves that works—doing stuff with and because our faith—isn’t important. But what Paul says is, Take God’s gift of grace, freely given to you—yes, it’s never earned, it’s always a gift—but then do something with it. Use it. Pay it forward. Grace is never the end of the conversation; it’s always the beginning of one. God’s grace is given to us in order to be put to work through us. Grace is God’s enabling power for growth.

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If you feel like you’re trudging through life right now under your own power, if you’ve lost your footing, if you’ve exhausted yourself that way, let me re-introduce you to grace. Author Anne Lamott says,

When you’re out of good ideas, what you’re left with is God.

She describes grace as spiritual WD-40 or water wings, if that works better. And all you have to do to find grace is to say “Help,” preferably out loud. Shout it into the heavens if you have to. The heavens will hear you. “But watch out!” Anne Lamott says. The moment you say that word, “Help!”, the moment you find grace, buckle up! Because, powered by the Holy Wind of God as it always is, God’s grace will take you places you never intended to go!

All praises to the One who made it all and finds it beautiful!

Alleluia! Amen.

Joining In

A sermon based on Genesis 11:1-9 and Acts 2:1-21 preached on June 4th, 2017

Sermon audio

Today we celebrate the many ways that God gives us new being. How we are forever and constantly invited into a life that is not ours but something given to us.

Pentecost is when we the Church realize that our life, our vitality, our meaning and purpose aren’t something that comes from within us. It all comes from somewhere else. Beyond us. We are not who we are on our own.

On the morning of that first Pentecost, the disciples were held up in a tiny room. Their minds, hearts, lives—their very purpose was gone, shrunk down and withered away. Frozen in fear. They thought they were alone. Abandoned. Orphaned. Left to themselves to make life work from here on out. Then they heard a rumble that came from the heavens.

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It is through Holy Spirit that we are given live, purpose, vitality. Holy Spirit represented by tongues of fire, tongues of speech, wind, and water.

Pentecost fire is not the sort that burns. It’s the sort that refines. Cleanses. Helps something made hard and rigid melt down into something pliable, shapeable, able to be remolded again.

Tongues of speech. Not the strange jibber-jabber heard in Holiness churches, but a new language that’s given to us so that we may understand one another and be understood by one another. We read the story in Genesis of the Tower of Babel where God confuses the languages of the people until they can no longer understand one another. What happens in Acts 2, on Pentecost, is the undoing of Babel.

Now, on this day, with the presence of the Holy Spirit with us, we have the ability to understand one another again. We borrow language that isn’t ours, and with it, we speak. We speak in the varied languages of our lives. We understand and are understood. And that’s a tremendous gift: to be understood. It’s a gift of the Holy Spirit who speaks among us and between us.

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Holy Spirit comes upon us as wind, reminding us that we are born from borrowed breath. It is God’s breath that inflated Adam’s empty lungs and gave him life. The same is true of us. Until God breathes Holy Spirit into us, we have no life.

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And water. The waters of baptism are poured out upon us as a sign of this gift, the Holy Spirit. Water is another reminder that we are not our own. Without water, we wither away. It’s another life-giving gift. Something that we do not and cannot give ourselves; water is given to us. With the waters of baptism, we say that with God and with the people of God, we find ourselves. That being human is to belong. That to belong is to be human.

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Each one of these—tongues of fire, tongues of speech, wind, and water. They are all things that invite us into bigger life. Holy Spirit life.

Andrew, Brennan, Leela, nothing magical has happened today. But you did do something wondrous just now: In a world that prizes individualism—do it yourself-ism—you have just proclaimed with your presence and your voice that you will no longer live your life alone. You have in a few different ways, declared that doing life together, joining in, is the only way for you to find your purpose, your life, your shape, your language, your breath, yourself.

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The same is true for all of us. We all need to be reminded of the together-way. Life not only lived but formed and given meaning in and through the practice of Holy Spirit-community. And just like the disciples on that first Pentecost, this is just the beginning of our journey together.

All praises to the One who made it all and finds it beautiful!

Alleluia! Amen.

Rerouted and Uprooted

A sermon based on verses from Proverbs and Acts 16:1-5 preached on May 1st, 2016

Sermon audio

Everyone had their bags packed, their passports in hand, and their itinerary all laid out. They knew exactly how long it would take to get to where they wanted to go.

Paul’s routes spread like roots and branches all around the Mediterranean Sea. He and his travel companions would make their way up North and a bit to the West. The plan was to make their way up through Syria and then head West when they get into Cilicia, which is on the North-East coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and then head Northwest to the Western tip of Asia to a place called Bithynia in what is now modern day Turkey. But as we know, even our best travel plans blow up in our faces. Something held Paul and his travel companions from going East into Bithynia. We’re not sure what, and maybe they didn’t either, but it was so strong that the only thing it could have been was the Spirit of Jesus. The Spirit of Jesus disrupted all their carefully laid-out plans. Perhaps they didn’t know what to call it at the time, maybe it took a long while to figure out what or who was nudging them in the very opposite direction then they planned on going, but whatever it was they sensed, it was strong enough to make them ditch their maps and venture out into unknown territory.

Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever had to throw out your plans, crumpled up your maps and tossed them over your shoulder into the back seat, and let the wind take you wherever it blew? Even our best-made plans need to be scrapped once in a while.

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I recall a time where I was re-routed. Before my 2nd trip to Honduras with my church, I felt like a veteran. I had done this before, so I thought I knew what to expect. So, a few weeks before the second go-around, I wrote a list of all the things I wanted to learn and encounter while I was there. I can’t recall a thing on that list now, but it was like a spiritual itinerary that I mapped out for myself. I promised myself that I was going to get to know God better in some very specific ways, and it became important to me that I stick to my script all the way through this trip.

Well, the trip didn’t quite go the way I had pictured it. Nothing at all bad happened. In fact, something good happened. I made friends with our host and travel companion, Gladys, who was a native of Honduras. She spoke English, and she and I got along famously, and I enjoyed her company and guidance throughout the trip. She even helped me hone my terribly insufficient grasp of the Spanish language. About halfway through the trip, it dawned on me that this unforeseen friendship that we struck up had completely thrown me off of my carefully laid out plans for the trip. Guys have a tendency to be distracted by these sorts of things, but now it was time to focus on what God wanted for me on this trip. I expressed this frustration of mine to my pastor one afternoon, and he said

What if making friends with Gladys is part of God’s plans for you?

Nah,

I said,

That can’t be!

Why not?

Charlie said.

I thought more about that idea for the rest of the afternoon until I decided he might be right. Who was I to say my own tiny plans were God’s plans, too? Wasn’t the thought that I knew the way this trip was all going to go and what and who I was going to encounter along the way—wasn’t that just some super-inflated notion that I knew the future that God had for me? Who was I to think that way? See, we have small plans. God has big plans—ones we cannot know or anticipate, prepare ourselves for, or even imagine. Whatever great things we have in mind, what God has in mind in even greater!

I threw away my list that afternoon, and immediately felt a freedom to explore all the new things placed in front of me. Suddenly, I could see everything that trip had for me. It was like taking a blindfold off and inviting in whatever I lay my eyes upon. God’s world and all that’s in it is so much more wondrous and strange and captivating than anything we could ever dream up ourselves. So, maybe the most faithful thing we could ever do is ditch the itinerary and all our carefully-made plans, and let ourselves be re-routed by the Spirit of Jesus!

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I wonder what that means for us as a church. Most of the time when a church wants to dream of its own future, or discern what God is doing, we first form a committee. We name it something like “The Vision-Casting Committee,” then we give it an acronym: “VCC,” and we get to work. And what usually happens is this VCC creates for itself some sort of structure to manage itself with. They do everything in logical steps, and they come up with a “strategic plan.” How inspiring does the phrase “strategic plan” sound to you? The word inspirational comes from the same word that Spirit and breathing in comes from.

We’re just a few weeks from Pentecost, when the first Christians would breathe in the Holy Spirit and become changed people—re-routed and uprooted themselves. Sent out into the world to do God’s work and use their own breath to give breath and voice to the peoples of all nations in the name of Jesus. And before the Holy Sprit, the breath of God, came upon them, they had no notion of where it would take them. We can plan ourselves to kingdom come, but we might find out at some point that the only voice we’re really listen for is our own. And if we do that, we’ll start walking East when the Spirit of Jesus wants us to go West.

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After a few days of walking through the city of Philippi, Paul and his fellow travelers walk away from the noise in the center of the town, outside the gates, and toward the river. The busyness of the last few days in the city had them wanting something quieter. They walked out toward the river, thinking they might find a place of prayer—some community of people who listened more then they talked, some community who knew that the best way to discern what God was doing in and amongst them was to gather themselves together in prayer and listen for God to speak to them. Prayer is where we discern God’s next move for us. It’s a way of opening ourselves up to hear the inner promptings and feel the nudges of the Holy Spirit. Prayer is the greatest way for us to be receptive.

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Paul and his fellow sojourners had been re-routed to this place by the Spirit of Jesus, but they hadn’t yet figured out why, and it’s telling that their search for a place to pray, and their desire to enter into prayer, led them to the very person God wanted them to meet. Paul had a vision that a man from Macedonia urged them to come and help them. Trusting that vision, he and his fellow travelers walked in that direction, open to anything God had to show them.

It turns out that this “man from Macedonia” was actually a woman whose name was Lydia. Lydia was a Gentile, a citizen of Rome. Like most others in Philippi, she was polytheistic. She worshipped many gods, one of whom was the God of Hebrew scripture. She was a wealthy woman. She had it all, really. She was an independent business woman, a dealer in purple cloth, which was reserved for royalty. She had all she ever needed, but something inside of her craved something more. Something deeper than all that.

Long before Paul and his companions show up, Lydia is being nudged in God’s direction. Uprooted from her comfortable life. God had been working in her heart—doing something new. She just couldn’t figure it out. Our story says that she listened as Paul shared the message of Jesus with her and others from her household. As as he spoke, Lydia recognized that this was what God was drawing her towards all this time. God prepares us ahead of time for these encounters. We might not ever recognize it, but God’s plans for us are bigger and more wonderful than we could ever imagine for ourselves.

I found that out in Honduras, Paul and his fellow travelers found that out as they gathered together for prayer, and Lydia found that out as Paul’s words cracked open her heart so that the Spirit of Jesus could come flooding in! I imagine that it was at that moment that Paul and his fellow companions recognized what all this journeying in the other direction was for. They had been re-routed for Lydia.

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The experts look at this passage of scripture and wonder who the “we” is at the beginning of verse 11 and all the way through to verse 15. Up until that point, the tale is told in the third person. Then all the sudden it shifts, and the author of Acts supposedly becomes a part of the journey. We sailed. We went to Philippi. We stayed for several days. We sat down with a woman named Lydia. Almost like the author is inviting all of us into the story—along for the journey, as they wind their way through the city and closer to Lydia. As if all of us are being led—or at least have the capacity to be led—by the Spirit of Jesus wherever and whenever we find ourselves. Maybe as the church in the 21st Century, we too are a part of this journey. Maybe we too are being re-routed away from all our own carefully made plans and travel itineraries, to ditch all of it and instead become receptive to the ways that God is calling us in new directions.

Our plans are not God’s plans. When we have our eyes fixed to the East, toward Bithynia, maybe God wants us to go West towards Macedonia instead. But how would we ever know if we don’t take time to listen to any other voice than our own?

All praises to the One who made it all and finds it beautiful!

Alleluia! Amen.

Animate

A sermon based on Acts 2:1-21 and Ezekiel 37:1-14 preached on May 24th, 2015.

 Sermon audio

Happy Pentecost!

Today, we come together to give witness to the moment when Christ’s church was birthed into the world. Pentecost comes 50 days after the Easter resurrection and 10 days after the ascension of Jesus.

Pentecost is the festival of flame and wind—the moment when the wind of the Spirit, the same Spirit that blew over the waters at our planet’s infancy, comes to God’s people and infuses us with new vitality and brand new being. Pentecost is that moment when we, like the apostles on that very first Pentecost, stop being passive hearers, watchers, consumers, spectators of our Lord’s message—hidden away in our closets where no one can find us—and for the first time walk out into the world embodying the ministry and presence of Jesus for all around us to see.

Pentecost is the Jesus follower’s coming-out party, and therefore the birth of the Church. But we don’t walk out of our hideaways under our own power. We do so because the Holy Spirit animates our lifeless bodies, provoking us to speech and arousing us to action.

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That’s the message of this passage from Ezekiel. Ezekiel is led by God into the middle of a desert—lifeless and silent. God asks him to preach a sermon to a cemetery—not even that, really, a bone yard. Imagine vultures circling overhead. How creepy is this story?!

I visited one of my mentors and pastor friends a year ago and we toured one of the oldest cemeteries in his town of Greenville, SC. I didn’t know he was taking me there. He just said he wanted to show me the quiet neighborhood. Who preaches sermons to the lifeless?

The valley of bones Ezekiel preaches to represents the people of Israel in exile. Cut-off, dried-up, outside of the fertile land of that they flourished in for so long. Cast outside into the desert wastelands of Babylon. The dry bones in this story are Israelites experiencing social desolation—who are beyond the point where they still have hope of returning back to life as they knew it before. These bones Ezekiel sees in this vision are hopelessly lifeless. There’s no future for them.

What these exiled people needed was a resurrection for their entire community—to be lifted out of their hopelessness and have their very bones rattled awake by the Spirit of God. Stuck in a place that only dealt them death, that was their only prospect for life.

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The Holy Spirit stirs us to action. She rattles us awake and breathes life into our lifelessness. She moves these dry bones of ours until there is flesh on them again—and nurtures strength in us until we learn how to walk again. The challenge and invitation of Pentecost is to have our bones be moved until we are stirred to action, and our tongues animated until they take on speech and begin proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel to those around us.

On that first Pentecost, the Holy Spirit, she takes the disciples and she shoves them out of their complacency, and into a world and among a people who need to hear a word from Jesus.

In the 50 days between Easter and Pentecost, the disciples had been cooped up. They met for worship, they had all their committee meetings (in Acts 1, they voted on who was going to replace Judas as the new 12th disciple), they gathered around their tables to discuss their models and strategies, they made their budget, they cooked meals for one another, but still they stayed cooped up—frozen inside their own church building—too scared to take the Good News outside their walls. When the Holy Spirit comes, she turns fear into power, confusion into clarity, and silence into communication.

That first Pentecost Day, the Holy Spirit blew in and through the disciples and she stirred them awake, coaxing them out of their paralysis and into life, and giving them new tongues so they could break their silence. The disciples who before had no voice were now speaking in languages other than their own so that all could talk to others around them, and they understood those who spoke to them in their own languages. That’s what the Holy Spirit can do: She animates what was once dead and arouses it to life and gives us what we need to embody, in ourselves—in you and in me—the person of Christ, so that in our speech, in our very selves—deep within our bones—we take on the very person of Jesus Christ—until the Gospel we proclaim with our words and our lives is the same Gospel Jesus proclaimed with His words and His life.

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The question this passage from Ezekiel should have us ask is this: Will our bones be shaken awake? Will the very core of who we are—our very marrow—take on new life? That’s the question God asks Ezekiel. That’s God’s question to His people in this passage: Can these bones live?

Looking out at the wasteland in front of him, Ezekiel answers God in a smart and honest way. He stares into this bone yard that the Spirit led him into, and all he sees is dried-up nothingness. A parched and hopeless sight. The very center of the people of God, all the way down to the hollowness of their bones—their essential selves, their deepest being—is gone. Their spirits are in exile. Ezekiel answers out of that hopelessness by turning the question back to God:

God only you know, Ezekiel replies.

Can Huntington find its way out of the wilderness of heroine addiction? When we look out over the landscape of that issue, there’s no sign of life there. So, God, only you know.

How about the wasteland of gangs in inner cities across our country? The wreckage of hunger across this community? How about the silence that functions like death and falls so hard onto communities oppressed by hatred and social and spiritual separation? For communities and races and social classes all across this nation who, no matter what they do, will always be less-than in the eyes of others? Isn’t cruelty like that: a lifeless desert? Can these bones live?

The Holy Spirit moves the unmovable and stirs to life what seemed lost forever to death—bringing speech to silent situations. The answer’s Yes, these bones can live.

God’s Spirit injects hope into lifeless communities and brings vitality where there was once only lifelessness. And empowered with this same Holy Spirit, we can be participants in that reanimation of creation. God used Ezekiel to take those broken bones and piece them back together again. God can use us to do the same for all those around us who are experiencing a sort of death in their lives.

If we breathe in the holy breath offered to uξs at Pentecost, we participate in a redoing of creation itself when the wind of God first blew over the waters. What God does at Pentecost is animate an entire community—recreating us to be a part of a brand new way of creation. Pentecost happens when communities are brought back to life. That’s the business the Holy Spirit is in. It’s death in reverse. She animates what was once still and stuck in place. She reinvigorates those who for far too long lived in despair, and she revitalizes what was once a wasteland.

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At Pentecost we celebrate that, with the Holy Spirit, the animating presence of life—stirring us to action, encouraging us, and urging us on—that nothing, absolutely nothing is beyond redemption. These bones can live. Today, we are asked to embody that hope—that “ Yes!” from God.

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This story from Ezekiel makes me wonder about something: Are our expectations big enough?

Ezekiel stared out at a field of dried up bones and was one honest comment away from saying to God,

You gotta be kidding me with this! These bones can’t live! Look at them, God! Of course they can’t!!

You know he wanted to say it. That was the truth as he saw it. But led by the Spirit of God, Ezekiel took on a hope that wasn’t his—confronting an apparently dead situation, and wondering out loud if it could be restored back to life.

Maybe God knows what he’s doing, so I’ll do what God has asked me to do.

And God’s Spirit connected bone-to-bone, and placed sinews onto them, and bound those bones back together again. And then God put breath back inside of them and let them live again—giving a future to a people who thought they didn’t have one.

Jesus said with our prayers mountains can move. So, let me ask it again on this Pentecost Sunday: Are our expectations of what God can do big enough?

Pastor Mark Batterson says is this way:

Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers. God isn’t offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. God is offended by anything less. If your prayers aren’t impossible to you, they are insulting to God.

Are your problems bigger than God, he asks, Or is God bigger than your problems?

Our biggest problem, he suggests, is our small view of God.

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Pentecost is when we take time to celebrate a God who brings life to dead situations, when the Holy Spirit turns a dead end into a highway. When she shakes us awake, sends us out, and empowers us to be difference-makers in and for the world. God has the power to create life where it seems only death exists. Do we know that?

May our bones be moved by the Holy Spirit just as the bones of those disciples were moved on that very first Pentecost Day. And may God animate, revitalize, and reinvigorate our bones—the very core of us—for service and witness to the Gospel of his son and our Savior.

Happy Pentecost!

All praises to the One who made it all and finds it beautiful!

Alleluia! Amen!