And just like that first Easter evening, when the disciples were all together in one place, so, exactly 50 days later, they wait in the same place, waiting just as Jesus instructed them. They knew to wait, for the coming of the Holy Spirit. They just didn’t have any idea what it would look like, or how powerful an experience it would be!
From community entombed, to community unfurled-alive! Can these dry old bones live? Can the whole house and community of the new Israel, rattle together, head bone connected to the neck bone, and so on? Can the four winds breathe into these fearful, entombed disciples, and animate them into the church?
They waited together in that upper room, disbelieving in their joy, until suddenly, without warning there was a sound like a mighty, gale force, wind – no one could tell where it came from as it filled up the entire structure. And like a wildfire, flames swept in and appeared to rest over each of them. And out of the chaos, the disciples all began to speak, in the foreign languages of everyone, who had come from around the world. An instant Rosetta Stone miracle! John the Baptist had predicted at Jesus’ baptism that he would baptize with “the Holy Spirit and fire.” And so it was – a mighty wind, and tongues of fire! And wonderfully playful, the tongues of fire, morph into fire-y tongues, the first gift of the Spirit in the church, the gift of proclaiming the gospel good news. And some 3,000 were baptized by the end of that day.
Today we tell the good news that Malesh and Boyosa are prepared to affirm their baptismal promises for themselves and become confirmed members of this Unity congregation and the whole Christian Church.
Malesh, eldest son, responsible for his siblings, our lovable brother in Christ, pre-med student in high school, tall and resolute - together with Boyosa, second oldest, quiet and reserved, yet the first of his family to speak from the ambo here at Unity, as a reader of the scriptures: these two, today, will publicly reject sin, death and the powers of this world that rebel against God, and affirm the triune God, father, son, and holy spirit; promise to continue in the covenant God made with them in baptism, and finally, receive the laying on of hands, for the gift of the holy spirit.
And just as their confirmation is not a one-way proposition, but a covenant between them and God, so too our relationship with Malesh and Boyosa is a two-way relationship. We pledge to welcome them; and support them; and pray for them, as fellow confirmed members.
There is no doubt that Unity would be much less without Malesh & Boyosa and the Mangeango family. That they have broadened our understanding of the faith, much like that first Pentecost day was so enriching by the very diversity, and its ethnic gift-giving, in believers from all nations, near and far, who renewed and animated the whole Body of Christ, a spirit-fired resurrection, up-lifting the word and presence of God’s mission for the whole world.
“I tell you the truth,” said Jesus, “it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate [the Spirit of truth] will not come to you; but if I go, I will send (her) to you.”
So, from community entombed, to community unfurled-alive – we are nothing without the spirit of truth, but in community, in the Body of Christ, we are everything, alive and re-animated through the power of the Spirit, from the four winds, Jesus sends to us.
Even on our darkest day, when we feel locked up and entombed in fear, even when we wait paralyzed, even as silence overwhelms us with its deafening, oppressive noise – Jesus, as Holy Spirit, is there creating possibility for us. She arrives always in community, where we wait in prayer, and we dine on his body and blood, and we support and pray for one another. For our life is born anew, born from above, in the community of Christ! There is no Spirit of life, no spirit of truth, no spirit of peace & justice, but the one that lives in and through the gathering of the faithful, empowered and sent out into the streets.
From community entombed, to community unfurled-alive! The Holy Spirit, the fulfillment of Jesus’ resurrection, is alive in the jangling, ever re-animated embodiment of community. Not just community in here, not just in Christian community, not just in confirmed members, but in the widest possible community of Christ in the world, in all nations, in all those we encounter as stranger, the stranger who is always potential friend, and angel of God. The chaos of the Holy Spirit is fed, nourished and ordered by the worshipful ingathering sent out to all: “Parthians and Medes, Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia… Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs,” and so many more.
The Spirit creates community, just as the vision of dry bones were reanimated, rattled together, into a living breathing people of God. The community is stronger as it welcomes the newcomer and friend, from far, or near. The Holy Spirit is alive and growing wherever we make connections with one another and build on common interests that fulfill our core values as followers of Jesus, and in the justice and peace of the Christ, who sacrificed the hierarchal privileges of the old sacred violence, and humbled himself as one of us, servant and friend.
Now, in his gift of the Holy Spirit, she transforms us, from community entombed, to community unfurled-alive! From behind closed doors, we are invited to the banqueting celebration, and dancing in the streets!
Alleluia, Christ is risen!
Christ is risen indeed, alleluia!