Pentecost Sunday Homily/Reflections
Deacon Rick Fisher
"Pentecost is a feast for our age."
There are two accounts presented to us today in the readings we have just heard. In the Acts of the Apostles, Luke describes a mighty wind blowing through the place where the disciples were gathered. John, on the other hand, gives us a picture of the disciples locked in a room where Jesus appears and breathes on them, saying, "Receive the Holy Spirit."
In both scenes an invitation takes place -- forceful in Luke -- gentle in John. Love has entered the locked doors of a room in a house in Jerusalem, that is not much different from most of our homes -- furnished in fear.
We live in an age of locked doors. It is estimated that the American people spend millions of dollars a year on home alarm systems. We truly live in fear -- fear of the streets -- fear of forced entry -- fear of the stranger -- fear of the unknown.
Presumably all our locks and alarms are meant to free us from fear and worry. The money we have spent helps us to relax and sleep at night. We are certainly more protected than the disciples were -- but no less fearful, it seems. One of the problems that occur with all these systems is that while people are protecting their property - reducing break-ins and preventing robberies - they are isolating themselves. The safe fortress of a home has now become a prison. So tightly closed up that fire fighters have found bodies of homeowners trapped at their own barred windows - unable to escape fire and smoke. What a price to pay for freedom from worry. And added to the price is personal loneliness and unfriendly neighbors when alarm systems give false alarms that wake them in the night. There may be a connection between the ever growing complaint about alienation in our society and the increase number of doors that we lock.
People are social beings - we need human contact and love. We lock our doors - but we need to open them to friends. We need to make room in the most secure home or frozen heart for the invasion of the Lord and His spirit of love. The invasion does come ... Luke speaks of fire ... John of warm breath.
We also live in an age of violent crime - a hostile age. The evening news seems to start out with the newest list of victims. In spite of all the efforts to control the spread of handguns, we have armed ourselves with more privately owned pistols and rifles than ever before in history. This is our protection against violent crimes of forced entry and robbery. But these weapons serve more as a witness to our fear - people now fear more with weapons in their homes. Sometimes I get the idea that for a family to go out, they must first open their doors and spray the area with bullets - then post guards at the picnic grounds. Remember when all we concerned ourselves with were ants and bees?
What we really need is not a handgun - but a hand to hold. We want a gentle caress - the scene of a mother gently caring for a child - the embrace of a close friend or relative that has been away - or perhaps the warm breath of a loved one saying the most powerful and spirited words - "I'm sorry" - or - "I forgive you." Jesus did not bring weapons to those in the locked room - he brought a word and a gift. He did not bring alarm systems - but peace and the power to forgive. He brought the gentle spirit with the amazing power of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Yes - we live in a violent and fearful age with locked doors and hearts. It is an attitude that not only lives in this area but in all cities across the nation. On this Pentecost Sunday we might ask ourselves two simple questions. How many locks are on our heart? Is there a chance for a stranger to enter our homes and find a place at our table?
Pentecost is a feast for our age. The more we lock our doors in fear, the more we need Pentecost and the invasion of the Spirit. The more we arm ourselves with weapons, the more we need the gentle hand of Jesus. The more we hide in silence behind locked doors, the more we need to go out with the words that Jesus gave us. The only fear we should have is the fear of offending -- offending God -- which we do when we offend others.
Each of us have entered the doors of this house. You are welcome here - old and new parishioners, and just visitors. Here in the community all are welcome. The doors were not locked when you arrived - you did not have to give a secret password or give a secret knock at the door to get in. You entered to enjoy the experience that we are a people that have been invaded. We have not been robbed - quite the contrary - we have been given the richest of all gifts - the power to forgive.
The power and peace of the Holy Spirit has descended upon us and is within us - use it well.