Saturday, 18 May 2013

Gathered and scattered: a sermon for Pentecost

A sermon for Pentecost...
Acts 2: 1-18

[the idea here is a sort of rhythmic repetition, snappy and fast-paced and flowing, and bringing in some of the lyrics to the following hymn 'Gather us in'... I feel I got boxed in earlier in the week by the post-sermon hymn... it ain't pretty, but never mind]

Let us pray:
Spirit of the living God
Fall afresh upon us –
Help us to hear your voice in word and in our thoughts...

Gathered in
Gathered together in one place
All the believers –
in one house
Sitting ...
Pondering upon Jesus:
Jesus who had so recently been among them
And who had been himself 
up to God the Father....
but, who, before he’d gone
Had asked them to gather...
And so, 
they did.

In a room,
In Jerusalem...
Gathered together
Gathering their thoughts:
They waited...
And wondered:
Wondered what those last words of Jesus had meant:
‘You will receive power from on high’
‘I will be with you always’...
But he’d disappeared...
Gone to the Father;
So, how was that possible?

Called and gathered
They had been on an incredible adventure:
A roller-coaster ride of mystery and wonder
Of friendship and laughter
Of weddings and wine
loaves and fishes
Cheers, betrayal, and jeers
A journey of fear, denial,
Slaughter and scattering.
...and unspeakable bewildering grief...

And then
Day’s dawn in a garden
And the world... turned upside down
as a stone rolled away... with resurrection’s promise fulfilled.

They gathered again
He appeared in their midst
With bread and wine and blessing
And the promise of a helper...

On a day 
when they’d gathered together again,
A sudden unexpected noise
 like wind blowing out the cobwebs in the corners of the mind
Blowing and rattling the windows of imagination open
Blowing wide open the doorways of their hearts
as the flames of the Holy Spirit danced in their midst:
their eyes opened as if seeing for the first time;
And their hearts were comforted by the warmth of holy fire
And their minds understood 
the words:
‘I will be with you always’...
And in response:
So excited that together they left the room
And, like the Spirit rushing into that room and into their lives...
they rushed out into the world:
Shining and blazing with the light and life of God’s love.
Proclaiming what had happened to all who would hear.

...And some who heard thought they were drunk
but others from all around the known world mysteriously heard the joyous good news in the language of their birth.
And 3 000 were added to the number of believers that same day.

And as they gathered,
So they scattered – to be witnesses
And to call and to gather others...
Who, in turn, would scatter
and proclaim the good news of the message of Christ
down through the ages...
Generation upon generation,
Gathering and scattering,
Fired by the prompting of the Spirit,
Hearing and sharing the story:
Eating bread,
drinking wine.
Remembering the one who had called them
and caused them to gather
Who told them that He would be with them always;
Then - 
told them to scatter and to share the good news...

And now,
in this place,
in this room,
we gather:
Week in, week out,
We gather.
Because Christ has called us here –
although maybe in a less dramatic way than those first followers on the day of Pentecost:
the drama which was the birth of the church.

We gather, because 
it’s something we just 
Almost a routine...
We get up
Get dressed
Have our bacon butty
or our cereal
or even that slice of leftover pizza...
and, at the Spirit’s prompting –
even though we may not have realised that’s what it was –
we answer the call:
we gather in this place
as generations before us have gathered;
we hear again the good news...
That good news is about friendship:
God, in Jesus, saying:
‘I call you my friends’
God, through the Spirit
Being with us – 
The friendship expanding as we, in turn, say to our neighbours:
‘I call you my friends’
As we stand alongside,
and walk with those around us –
in joy and in pain and in all the in between....
We are called to gather,
in order to scatter
and so we share the love of God.

in this place,
in this room,
we gather:
and although at times we may not even be aware of it...
Here, in this place, 
new light is streaming
now is the darkness vanished away.  
The One who calls us friends
is with us still
in the mystery of the Spirit;
That same Spirit
who blows through this room
making, in our hearts, a home:
comforting and encouraging
challenging and inspiring...
with us always
calling us to gather
to hear again the good news;
to remember
and to respond once more:
to shine;
to blaze with the light and life of God’s love
and then to scatter from this room
and go and share:
share the good news with all:
the good news
that God calls us friends
that God is with us always –
that God will never leave us or forsake us
that we are loved regardless of age, or gender, or orientation,
or even if we did have that leftover pizza slice for breakfast...

Here in this place
Gathered together as God’s called people -
Even now...   
 the breath of God’s Spirit is filling the room,
Swirling around us
and within in us
Reminding us that 
even as we scatter and think about what God might be doing 
in our own lives,
And in the life of the world - 
that we are not alone, 
that each of us is part of something much, much bigger: 
that we’re bound together in friendship – 
with each other
And with God,
Who calls us
And gathers us
Loves us
and scatters us
and who, in the Spirit,
is the fire of love in our flesh and our bone -
and who encourages us to tell 
the greatest love story the world has ever known.


a pearl downunder said...

Nik, that is amazing.

Nik said...

I am a little more reassured that it works then, Pearl - thank you!

Terri said...

Hey Nik! Yes, this works. It's lovely.

Holy Smoke said...

This is a beautiful poetic definition of Pentecost, all that is and was and is to be blowing through us,
gathering us,
scattering us.
Thank you, bless you, might I read this poem to my congregation.
Joan Smoke,

Mrs Gerbil said...

I liked it too, especially the line about pizza for breakfast ;-)

Nik said...

Gosh, thanks folks. Just off to preach it!
Joan - of course, be my guest.

Nik said...

Wow! Just ... wow!
Candles and bubbles and laughter and joy and deep, good moments - now that's what I call church
In the midst of the madness, I grinned and thought a holy 'yes!' :D

So, that all worked then... lol!

Teri said...


(so glad it worked too--but seriously, even on the page/screen it's beautiful!)