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My Pentecost

Happy Birthday Christianity!  Birthdays are for celebrating and receiving gifts.  Pentecost is when the first Christians received the Holy Spirit. So, today let’s pray, “Come, Holy Spirit.!”

In today’s Scripture from Acts, Peter calls it the last days. And these are the last days after Jesus ascended into heaven, whether it’s two days or 2,000 or 20,000 years. Jesus had told his disciples that he had to leave so they would receive the Holy Spirit and do even more miraculous things than he did.  And Peter affirms that the day has come when the young, the old, the men, the women, the slave and free would experience the Holy Spirit in many ways.

Last week, our pastor talked about the older members of our families telling their memories.  Well, I definitely qualify as older, so here’s a short trip down my memory lane.

In my twenties I became disillusioned with myreligion. And since I had pretty much made religion my God, I stopped believing in God and the Bible. Even without religious faith,  I was active in politics, andworking for Civil Rights, because I thought humanity was on its own and we had to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps.

When I was thirty, I experienced a joyful conversion to belief in God and Jesus through friends working for a non-denominational Christian ministry. I began reading the Scriptures with new eyes and went from believing nothing to believing everything in the New Testament. I joined a prayer group of women from the major Christian denominations along with one Jewish woman.  All, had experienced a new level of faith. We focused on how to become more loving rather than on doctrine. We prayed about our and others’ concerns and read the Scriptures for guidance. When we were praying for one of the women’s mother, I suddenly knew  she was being healed. I shared that and we praised God, but when I got home, I panicked!. What if it wasn’t true? My positive conviction had faded. But it did turn out to be true. So, I asked the Presbyterian woman who seemed to know more about the bible and prayer than the rest of us, how that had happened.  She said that I had experienced one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and there were more. Would I like her and another woman to come the next morning and pray over me to receive the rest of the gifts? That sounded good, so I said yes. But that night I began to worry that I might get off track again, so I prayed for a sign that the Pentecostal experience was for our times and right for me. By midnight I hadn’t received any sign, so I went to bed thinking this was not for me. At around

two in the morning the phone rang. I rushed to answer it, worried that it was an emergency. But when I answered, a man’s voice asked, “Is this the Pentecost’s?” I sort of stammered, “I beg your pardon?” He responded, “Is this the Pentecost’s residence?” I hesitated, but told him “No,” so he hung up. But I decided that had to be a positive answer, so the women came and prayed for me and told me about a  Charismatic prayer group at the Sister’s of Mercy convent. I became active in the Catholic Charismatic movement and witnessed and experienced many miracles.  Not every heartbreaking illness or problem in my life was cured or solved. But after experiencing so many miracles, I knew God was with me and I’d seek God’s grace and guidance in the hard times. There is one experience that I do want to share now. I soon attended my first Charismatic Conference with twenty-thousand people of many denominations in the Notre Dame football stadium. During the worship service people spontaneously began to sing in different languages with  different melodies. Now I can’t sing on key unless I listen to the person standing next to me. So, as beautiful as it was, I didn’t see how I could join in. But suddenly, words with a melody just bubbled up and I was singing in a language I did not know to a melody I didn’t know or hear anyone else singing.  It’s hard to describe how all those languages and different melodies could come together so beautifully and then soften and stop simultaneously.  We CAN all sing together in perfect harmony.  As broken as our world is, the power of the Holy Spirit within everyone of us, is stronger. This memory is my sign of hope that I cling to when the violence and hate all around us, even in Christianity, threaten to overwhelm me.

Pray with me if you wish:

God our Father, we cannot become the people you created us to be or bring your Spirit of love into our broken world, without being filled to overflowing with both the Love of Jesus and the power of your Spirit within us. Spirit of the Living God fall afresh on us. Speak to us through the Scriptures. Stir our hearts and empower us to become like your first followers. Free us from whatever holds us back from being completely yours.

Pentecost

Pentecost Sunday just cries for the Spirit,
at least a tongue of fire or two,
or a sweeping wind that blows our minds
free of habit and ritual and rules.
So, I found a little brick church
with the name of Power and Praise.

Well, I started out pretty lively
clapping to drums with hands raised.
I thought I was blending in nicely
for a gray haired Presbyterian.
But, perhaps I should have drunk more coffee,
since after forty minutes, I ran out of steam.

I thought it might be time to sit down,
but then, a lady, who had to be over eighty,
began dancing blissfully in front of the pews.
Smiling and spinning gently around,
she looked so joyful doing this,
I found it hard to resist joining in.

But the music stopped, as we all sat down
for a seventy-five minute sermon
on the deplorable state of the world.
Though it was a bit of a downer,
with most of it I actually agreed,
until the preacher spoke about women,
who wear pants and short hair.
He said women only did this,
so they could attract other women.

That’s when I noticed I was the only woman
in the entire congregation
wearing pants and short hair.
I tried to hunker down low in the pew,
so no one would notice my pants,
but that wasn’t much help with my hair.
Thank God, I hadn’t joined in the dance.

But to give credit where credit is due,
the preacher admitted he’d been wrong before
and he might be wrong once again,
so we all should keep reading the scriptures
to let God, Himself, teach us the truth.
But though I keep searching the bible,
I haven’t found anything there
about women wearing pants or short hair.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t tempt any women,
nor did they me, as a matter of fact.
So, though, I’m a failed Pentecostal,
I probably wouldn’t be a good Lesbian either.