Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pentecost Sermon: Open Minds

Texts: Genesis and Acts from Pentecost

Motto: Open Minds. What does that convey? I’ve always found myself being attracted to other friends who I perceive as being “open minded.” I think “open mindedness” is a good thing. But, there are others who are skeptical about the value off open-mindedness. They see it, perhaps, as being wishy-washy, as being too relativistic, perhaps, as being unwilling to stake a claim.

Today we hear from two scriptures in which God opens minds to new realities. In the Genesis scripture, it seems like God is closing minds, doesn’t it, but perhaps God is doing something different.

From Babel to Pentecost: Open Minds see Unity amidst Diversity and Diversity Amidst Unity.

Unity is the real watchword for Christians, isn’t it? Unity is the goal, division is scandalous. More often than not, the divisions we experience in our lives are due to groups’ inability to be at the table with each other.

Perhaps God scatters the people in Genesis b/c of what we know about the wrong way to promote unity: Unity through intimidation, Unity through coercive behavior. What do we know about how things were built in the ancient times? Slaves were oppressed into the service of the elite. Sometimes unity isn’t so great.

So, God made the people diverse. God spread them to the winds and gave them different languages.

Pentecost, God makes the people understand one another and find unity in the midst of diversity. They begin speaking a language, in which people from all the nations can understand what they are saying

IN the first scripture reading, the main contention that God has with their unity project is that they are setting out to “make a name for themselves” by building a tower to the heavens.

In Acts 2, God reverses the decision at Babel because God wants them to make a name for themselves: The Church.
And while the people at Babel spoke with one another about their great power, the gift of the Spirit in Acts compels the people gathered there to speak in all the different languages about God’s great power.

If you’re intention is to do something in order to Glorify God, I have no doubt that you can do it.

New language: one in which we can all understand one another in the midst of diversity. Perhaps it is an unspoken language. Perhaps it’s a language of gesture.

Speech pathologists say that a large amount of our language is composed of gesture. We speak with one another in the way that speak.
New language uses gestures of love.

Preach the gospel wherever you go. If you have to, use words.

Dr. Seuss Book: On Beyond Zebra. Perhaps our faith is On Beyond Zebra. That’s what the first followers of Jesus were experiencing at Pentecost. Their experience of the Spirit was beyond words, so the Spirit gave them a language.

God’s gift at Pentecost, how do we uphold that tradition? In several instances in the book of Acts, the apostles verify that the gentiles are to be included in the church because they show that they have received the same gift that the disciples had received at Pentecost.

Some Christians say that we must display it by speaking in tongues too. That we must have a spiritual experience that causes us to lapse into a language that doesn’t seem to make sense to our ears, but does to our Spirits.

Our church tradition upholds that speaking in tongues is a gift of the Spirit, but unlike some of our Pentecostal friends, we don’t think of it as being necessary to our salvation. But, we do think it is an integral part of faith to respond in some way to the Spirit being poured out on you. Perhaps we find ourselves more compelled to speak out in non-verbal ways. To communicate to others “God’s deeds of power” through gestures of love, through maintaining an open heart, an open mind, and an open door.

Perhaps God has blessed this church with open minds so that we don’t miss the Lord’s prayer as it would have sounded coming out of our Lord’s mouth.

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