Sunday, May 31, 2009

Day of Pentecost

Grace and greetings.

I had been writing a blog all week long in my head, but never getting it down in print. The last several days have been emotional rollercoaster. Thursday, snow returned, leaving us with a light blanket of snow which melted by the end of the day. But I also received notice of a death in an Anchorage hospital of a church member who had suffered several strokes. Before his last stroke, he was seen throughout town in one of his two wheelchairs; one motorized that he was able to zip along with; the other he pushed himself backward with his one good foot.

Then Thursday afternoon, a couple from Chicago came to Barrow for the day, and had arraigned for me to renew their wedding vows for their 30th anniversary. This was the first time that I had officiated a service for rededication of vows.

Then on Saturday morning, the community of Barrow woke up to the news of a high school couple whose relationship was not working out; the young man shot his ex-girl friend and then shot himself. He died of his wounds, and she is currently in Anchorage; last I heard was on life support. (Monday afternoon: I have since found out that she did pass away yesterday.)

Saturday night, snow returned, as if to blanket our sorrow and pain with several inches of the white stuff. We went out to dinner to celebrate Kim's birthday, then came home to watch "Gandhi."

Most of the snow is gone as I type, but the pain is still there from yesterday's shootings. But God's spirit continues to flow down upon us, and through us. Here is my meditation from this evening....

“Pray the Spirit”
Romans 8.22-27

On the evening of Pentecost, we gather to worship and pray together. In this passage, Paul starts off that the whole creation is groaning in labor pains. The whole creation, everything in creation is before God, praying. All life, all animals, all mountains, and valleys, beaches and streams are lifting prayers and praises up to God. We join our voices with all of Creation in our worship of the Lord our God. Even those times where we do not know where our next step should be, we worship God.

Yesterday brought out the pain and anguish of prayers that could not find any answers. Prayers that mothers remembered the birthing pains they went through for life, to see life taken from them. Questions continue to be asked, and it seems as though no answers are coming. We know that we are God’s children; we know that God has blessed us and continues to call us forth for adoption to redeem us. But as we hold our dying loved ones in our arms, we continue to lift up our prayers, hoping against hope that God will answer our cries. Paul writes, “For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

We come before God, knowing that God will be able to use our grief to bring us into God’s light and love. There is a book that has been out for the last couple of years now that many people have read; it is “The Shack” by Wm. Paul Young. The story is that of a father, and family that has lost their youngest daughter to a rapist and murderer. Though her body has never been found, they did find the remains of her cloths, blood stained; but still they hold out for hope. The book tells of the story of the father, Mackenzie, and how he has dealt with the great loss through his depression that he names “the Great Sadness.” Four years after his daughter’s disappearance, Mackenzie is given a note to meet God at the Shack where his daughter’s cloths were found. The story goes on to report about his time and meeting with God. Of course, as in all good books, there are twists and turns, guilt and redemption. Some questions are answered, many other questions remain.

In the Romans passage, we read that as the whole creation in pain, and yet continues to lift up prayers and praise to God. We read that even in the times it is the hardest for us to pray, even when we are in our own Great Sadness, God’s Spirit, comes to pray for us, and intercedes for us even when we can do nothing more than sigh. Along with the Great Sadness, there is the Great Nevertheless; though odds seem to be against us, nevertheless God comes out victorious in the end. Even when the disciples were faced with the death of Jesus, and lost all hope, nevertheless, God brought Jesus back from the dead, and promised the same for us.

This is the day of Pentecost, the day that the Spirit fell upon the Disciples and spread throughout the land and the ages. The Spirit of God continues to come to us, praying for us, lifting up our voices for us, even in those times when we can find no voice of our own. Though we walk through our valleys of shadow and death; as we experience our own Great Sadness; nevertheless, God comes through in the end, God DOES Triumph.

God is here; God is with us; God is here with us always. Alleluia and Amen.
Peace and blessings.

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