A reflection by Vicar Mark Fischer
Acts 2:2-4 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where the disciples were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
A couple of weeks ago, I did something I have never done before. I fried a turkey. So, you may ask: What does frying a turkey have to do with Pentecost and the disciples being filled with the Holy Spirit?
First, frying a turkey is not a passive event unlike putting it in the oven for three or more hours to cook it. There is an active source in the flame of the propane that heats up the oil and as the oil heats up, you can see the oil begin to move and bubble. And when you put the turkey into the hot oil, the oil begins to really bubble and froth. When you take the turkey out 45-60 minutes later, it will be a nice golden brown and cooked all the way through (hopefully). The turkey is no longer a piece of raw meat; rather it has been changed dramatically in a short period of time by the hot oil.
Like a fried turkey, Pentecost and the disciples being filled with the Holy Spirit is not a passive experience. These men were changed and transformed.
As we approach Pentecost this year, I would like us to ponder Pentecost from a new perspective and to ponder Pentecost and the season of Pentecost as a time to re-NEW, re-FORM, re-VISION.
Re-NEW>>>Think about this: one day ends; a new one begins. Creation is constantly starting every day. Each of us awakes to a new day. Creation is not static; it is constantly evolving and changing. Picture the volcano in Hawaii, Mt. Kilauea. Every time Mt. Kilauea erupts and lava flows down new land is created. The Church is much like Mt. Kilauea; somewhere in the world, people come and believe Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of the living God and commit their lives to a new way of living. The Church of Jesus Christ is growing every day. Change is a constant; nothing remains the same. Every creature, fish, mammal, insect, bird, and human changes. How are each of us being made new in our faith? What new ways can Millcreek Lutheran Church reach out to the people who are on the sidelines? What new ways can Millcreek Lutheran Church envision itself?
Re-FORM>>>When I think of re-FORM, I think of re-FORMulate. As an example, I have a recipe for blueberry banana bread that I like to make. BUT when I make it, I add more blueberries than is called for in the recipe; I have re-FORMulated it. When I was growing up, the model was believe, behave, and belong. I was taught what to believe, confirmation class; I was taught to behave a certain way i.e. you always wear a coat and tie to church; as a child, you don’t fuss in church; women wore a dress, gloves, and a hat, and because I did these things, therefore I belonged to the community of faith that was Union Lutheran Church. Today, for many people, belonging is more important than believing and behaving. People want to belong to a community; the institutional model, perceived top-down model does not interest them. Denominational identity is not a priority. Where one gathers for this community is fluid; it can be in a bar, in a coffee house, or in a storefront. What is important is the belonging and acceptance of who they are regardless what they are. As the Church, we need to embrace this greater need to belong without letting go of what it means to be a believer of Jesus Christ.
Re-VISION>>>I’m not thinking like John of Patmos and Revelation vision. Re-VISIONing is all about taking the Re-NEW and the Re-FORM and seeing new ways of being Church for people. It’s bold. It’s scary. It’s risky. And it is downright frightening. It means trying new things and failing. WHAT????? Who wants to be seen as a failure??? Failure is ok because you then look for a different path or avenue. And that is biblical. Isaac in Genesis 26 had to dig new wells because his original wells dried up or were plugged up by the Philistines, and then Isaac had to dig more wells because local people quarreled with him that he dug a well on their land and had no right to it. I challenge you the people of Millcreek Lutheran to think about what “new wells” there are to dig.
The color of the season of Pentecost is green; the theme of the season of Pentecost is the growing of the church and growing in faith. As we prepare to enter this 2019 season of Pentecost, ponder how you can be Re-NEWed, Re-FORMed, and Re-VISIONed.
Blessings, Vicar Mark