Pentecost // Breaking the Silence // Kate Murphy

This Sunday is Pentecost, the day Christians remember and rejoice that Jesus kept his promise to us, pouring out his spirit—the Holy Spirit—on all of his people.

When the Spirit was unleashed, the gospel of Jesus began to spread beyond the small group of his disciples. When the Spirit came, cowering Peter became a mighty evangelist. When the Spirit came, miracles and acts of power came with it. When the Spirit came, the church was born. And for centuries, churches have remembered and celebrated this moment in history with passion and joy and loud shouts of praise.

But not this year. This year, our church building will be empty. Our sanctuary won’t be filled with our voices lifted in songs and shouts of praise. We won’t laugh and launch kites or gather around pot-luck tables, taking and rejoicing in the unity we’ve found in him.  

This year, in our building, we’ll have a silent Pentecost.

And, uncomfortable and disappointing as that will be, maybe it’s right. Maybe all of our shouting and celebrations have been the wrong kind. Maybe it’s prophetic. Maybe this year’s silent Pentecost is a judgment against our silent churches. Maybe God can’t hear our pentecost shouting because our silence is deafening—silence in the face of injustice, silence in the relentless cycle of blood shed, silence in accepting the racist systems which kill our brothers and sisters.

But here’s the thing—our God is full of loving grace. Grace was never meant to free us from judgment; grace was always meant to free us for judgment, so that—in spite of our fear and weakness—we might be filled with His spirit of powerful redeeming, repenting, transforming love.

So, friends, this Sunday is different. It won’t feel the same; it won’t be the same. But we shouldn’t be the same. We will remember and rejoice in the promised gift of our savior that was given to change us, change everything. Together—even while apart—we will pray for the Spirit that fills us and resurrects us—and we will pray and pray, until there is something to shout about.

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