Sunday, June 08, 2014

Peace be with you!

Peace be with you!

Yes, as the Gospel puts it; “Peace be with you. Receive the Holy Spirit”. It is thus that we are invited to consider that the breath of God breathes within us with every breath we take. It is in the very act of being alive that we participate in the life of God. Holiness fills our lungs, which is why the mystics instruct us to breathe deeply. 

Surely when we exercise we breathe that way, but how about when we sit in silence and concentrate on the Presence of God, and practice that Presence. Peace indeed comes upon us, within us, and indeed among us. Just a moment of silence when we pray can remind us of the breath within our lungs and the beating of our hearts.

Receive the Holy Spirit!
Peace be with you!

It is with this proclamation that we come today to Pentecost, literally 50 days counting from Easter. It was a day when the disciples experienced something new and for the first time; namely that whatever race or nation you come from and whatever language you speak,  God’s Holy Spirit is poured out upon all. All nations, all peoples, all sorts, all conditions. 

As Paul puts it in today’s lesson from his first Letter to the Christians in Corinth; “For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-- Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-- and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” I am as much a part of you as you are of me. And without you, I am much diminished. This one body we call St. Paul’s Church is inseparably joined to the whole body of Christ.

Pauline theology is quite clear on that point. The Church is the body of Christ. That means you and me; we are, in a sense, God made flesh and blood. That means that we are, as our catechism puts it; members of Christ, Children of God, and inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven". Thus when we interact with one another it is our joy and our delight to do so with the profoundest reverence, respect and affirmation. We are to build one another up in the Lord.

It is our custom at this time of year to recognize our graduates. We even have a little bit of scholarship money for you. We recognize the Sunday School, and those who work with our children.

But there is so much more to recognize.
Beginning with our vestry and wardens who meet regularly as any healthy family meets to work out who is doing what, when and how for the building up of the ministry of this church. 
The treasurer and the finance committee take care of tracking out our income and our expenses, our various endowment funds and savings accounts, and managing our bills and our debts, just like any family does.
The property committee and the Junior Warden see to it that our building is in ship shape, or at least on its way to being so to the best of everybody’s ability. 
Just that; managing our finances and our property is an enormous responsibility. 
But that’s not the whole of the spirit of the place.
The ECW naturally takes upon itself an enormous responsibility to provide hospitality for the life of this church and for the spiritual up girding of the church.
The women and men’s book groups dedicate themselves to learning.
The ushers, the acolytes, the altar guild, and the choir week in and week out set forth the praise of God to the very best of their ability.
We even have some outstanding work going on in capturing the history of this church by our parish historian and archivist.
And on and on it goes; the mission and ministry of the church.
Everyone one of you, at least most everyone here, makes an annual financial commitment to the church, that is to say, this portion of Christ’s Body. Everybody keeps it, for the most part. To every one of you; you do realize that upon the measure of your generosity the ministry of this church rises and falls. You decide every week whether this church will have a full time priest, you decide on the extent to which the music program and the education of your children will be supported. You decide the extent to which your church pays its utility bills, insurance premiums, and all other expenses you build into your annual budget. This is your church. Your generosity makes so much possible. Imagine, just imagine what we could do together when each and every one of us is pulling in the same direction and in proportion to what God’s give each of us. Just imagine what we could do if each of us were to invite just one more person each year to this sacred and holy place.

As Paul puts it, again in today’s Epistle; “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.”

You are a magnificent kaleidoscope of giftedness, service, and activity. And you are all one. When I was a child, I loved looking into a kaleidoscope. In turning it round upon round I could see all sorts of shapes, patterns and color appear. This is how it is with the church. And yet we are one. 

There is only one God. There is only one Lord. There is only one Holy Spirit.  Do you really have any idea how wonderful you are? I know the world will take its pot shots at the church. I’ve heard it a million times; “I believe in God, it’s just the institutional church I do not believe in.” And I know that there can be moments when we can get down on one another and perhaps get into that criticism mode. Whenever that happens, we’ve just got to learn to snap out of it.

That’s because we must never loose sight of how important each one of you is to Jesus. Who is going to share that love of God unless you do? Who is going to be at the heart of the forgiveness of Jesus unless you are? Who will reconcile us one to another, unless we do it with all the heart, mind and strength of the Holy Spirit. 

That’s why I’m glad we’re having an ice cream social today! Every service we have in this church is a celebration. After all, what we do week in and week out is called “A celebration of the Holy Eucharist”. Every time we come to that Altar Rail, we literally receive the Body and Blood of Jesus, the reality of the Risen Christ into our lives. 

Remember what Jesus said on that first Pentecost;
“Peace be with you”. Take a deep breath. 
“Peace be with you”. Take a deep breath.
And with that he breathed upon them;
“Receive the Holy Spirit”. 
So celebrate God with us and God within us.
Don’t ever miss the miracle each day brings and especially this the Lord’s Day!!!

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Fr Paul


Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

"Heaven and Earth" has been included in Sites To See #377. Be assured that I hope this helps to point many new visitors in your direction.

"Fr. Paul" Bresnahan said...

Hi Jerry, thanks so much for giving me that shout out!