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May 29, 2020

Thrust into these trying and difficult days of virus, racism and rioting, is Pentecost.  It is that high, holy day when we are called to remember who we are, whose we are, and what we are called to do.  We read the story about the Spirit coming with wind and fire and everyone magically speaking other languages and it’s such a good story, so fantastical (and yet familiar), that we miss the point entirely.  Recent events remind us, however, that maybe we should pay attention.

You see, Pentecost is about people hearing one another.  It is the story of people who never expected to hear, let alone understand, the other, having a profound experience of communication, of community.  The story is not about what the disciples said that day.  The story is about what the people in the square heard.  These people report that they heard, “in their own language” about this God of power and life, love and forgiveness.  How was this possible?  Scripture is clear.  The Holy Spirit had come upon each of the disciples and empowered them.  And what is this power that the Spirit conveys?  It is the power of God, which is the power of love and forgiveness.  Strangely enough, it turns out that if you love people well enough it just doesn’t matter what words you use!  You will set aside yourself and be with them so of course they will hear you.  And you will hear them!

There’s an old saying, “It’s not what you know that matters; it’s who you know!”  We always laugh when we say this, thinking how unwise it is to put relationship over knowledge or experience.  We are so sure that we can learn and study our way into a better world.  It’s what most churches do these days.  We worship, gather for fellowship with “people like us” and have study groups so that we can understand and perhaps better appreciate “people not like us”.  We read history and theories of racism, long for “inclusive community”, talk about our complicity and strive to change our thinking.  Some of us go the extra step and work hard to change others’ thinking.  To be honest, a lot of well meaning people have spent countless hours on just such endeavors, and yet last night we all saw pictures of rioting, looting and burning in American cities.  And the spark for this conflagration looks like the murder of an African American man by a white policeman.  Why?  I suspect that fundamentally, it’s because,” it’s not what you know but who you know that matters”.

Jesus didn’t say, “Study one another.”  He didn’t say, “Think good thoughts about one another” or “be careful how you talk about one another.”  He said “Love one another.”  And then, because Jesus knew how messy and challenging that would be, he gave us God’s power of forgiveness.  Loving isn’t easy.  It will always require forgiveness.  Before we’ve even known each other a week, I will need to forgive you and you will need to forgive me if we are to continue together.  Forgiveness isn’t required when you only love the idea of another person.  Real love requires relationship.  And relationship takes effort and courage and humility, and always demands forgiveness.  If we would truly be the people of Pentecost, if we would truly have the inclusive, just community and country we say we want, then we need to do what our brothers and sisters did on that Pentecost so long ago.  Filled with the power of the Spirit which is love, they stepped out beyond their comfort zones, sent by God to build relationship with people not like them.  They weren’t sent to talk about love.  They were sent to love as Christ loved them.  We are sent to love as Christ loves us.  And when we do, the winds of change and the flame of freedom will sweep the earth and ignite the Kingdom!

It’s a Celebration! This Sunday we will celebrate Pentecost and Rev. Mia Crosthwaite’s ministry with us.  We will be worshiping in the Parish Hall so we can safely accommodate everyone who wishes to worship in person.  The bishop will lead us in celebration and worship and has asked that everyone wear a mask in respect for one another.  We will have masks at the door if you need one.  There will also be hand sanitizer at the door and we will sit six feet apart.  Sometimes all these safeguards seem to make worship difficult, but so many Christians have overcome much bigger obstacles, and I know we can be joyful in spite of temporary difficulties.  It is just so good to be together on Sunday morning!

Adventure Club We are setting this Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. as the beginning of Adventure Club this summer.  We will be hiking either in Celebration Park or Wilson Creek.  If you can drive your youth, that would be great, but if they need a ride, contact Karen+.  People riding in cars with people not in their household should plan to wear a mask when not  in the car.  Outside there will be enough air and social distance to safely hike without one. Please bring lunch, a water bottle, wear good hiking shoes and a hat if you have one.  Don’t forget your mask.  Sun block is good as well. We will plan to be back in Nampa about 2 p.m.  Please let Karen+ know if you plan to go so we don’t leave without you!

Thank you! Thank-you to all who have been so faithful with your support of Grace Church in this difficult time.  We will be instituting on-line giving for those who might find that helpful.  This should be available very soon.

Learning Peace Volunteers There will be a Zoom meeting of all Learning Peace volunteers who are interested in thinking about how Peace Camp might provide content and activities this summer.  Out of an abundance of caution we cancelled our onsite camp this year, but would like to do something.  If you have ideas, please join the meeting.  See Karen+ if you didn’t get an email with the link. 


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