Sunday, June 4, 2017

You Never Know Who You'll Meet

(At the beginning of worship we distributed Holy Spirit streamers to some people- basically a craft stick with a red, an orange and a yellow crepe paper streamer attached and whenever they heard the word "Spirit" they were to wave their streamers. On Pentecost that is pretty often. It was also confirmation.)

So today is the day where we celebrate the giving of the Holy Spirit to Jesus' disciples. They had been with Jesus in his ministry, and they have journeyed through his death and resurrection and ascension and they had been told to wait. To wait for what God would do next. And of course we hear that they were praying and the Spirit comes and fills the room with a swirling wind and what looked like flames over them. And they began to speak in languages they had never known, to do things they had never done and other people's lives were transformed and shaken up. It must have seemed overpowering, even crazy.
But I don’t really want to talk about that. To focus upon that single day that probably cannot be recreated by us. That's why I handed out the streamers to some of you. Because as they show up here and there I think that is much more how we encounter the work of the Spirit. In little moments here and there.
And so I want to talk about a woman I visited this week who is 87 "and a half!" Most of us quit counting that "and a half" by the time we reached adulthood. She had been in the hospital undergoing various tests and difficult news. But as each doctor came to see her and talk to her about her situation, they would ask the standard thing, " Do you have any questions?" She told me she would look deeply into their eyes and then say, "Yes. I do have a question. Do you like older women?"
And she brought unexpected moments of lightness, for people who spend all day talking to people about challenges, and illness, not really happy topic. She burst in with this question. And she so elevated her roommate's mood that the woman asked if they could stay in touch after their respective discharges from hospital. I think she transformed lives including her own.
This saint absolutely believes every drop of the life God gives should be wrung out and shared. Once a musician and Sunday School teacher, those days are now gone but she is still looking at the world outside her door and bringing God to those in her midst. Even in humor and spunk. A huge Patsy Cline fan, her favorite song she says with a smile is "Crazy."
Every day when she was in the hospital, she was also determined to put on her lipstick. "Why on earth?!" wondered her roommate?
"Because you never know who you'll meet in the hall!"
Beyond the humor of that is truth- you never know who you will meet.
She absolutely believed there was a world beyond her room and that she would be active in it.
It must at times seem crazy to live a Spirit filled and Spirit led life but look at how even simple moments transform people and situations. The Spirit is given to transform us so we can be those who transform the world around us. And it may not include wind and fire but God's Spirit will transform us and our world.
So why on a day when we are confirming you as high school students  would I tell you about an 87 and a half year old woman in the hospital? Well, the reason is this. You have spent some time the last couple of years in Sunday School, and now you have finished confirmation class. But you are not finished, you are just getting started, or certainly continuing what God has begun in you.
You have been given the Holy Spirit in your baptism and until now you have been learning and growing- but also doing. You have been already using your gifts in the Spirit. But there is much more that lies ahead in the journey. There is a world out there and you already have the power to be in it and to be God's presence wherever you are.
Unlike those first followers of Jesus we are not waiting for the Spirit to show up. And you have been gifted.And you never know who you will meet!

As we have talked in class I have heard about how your life includes sports, camping, hobbies, dancing, modeling, technology and more. And in each of these places you can transform people and the world around you. "The Spirit gives as the Spirit chooses," Paul tells us. It may look like many things in different people and different times, but one thing we never hear is that God's Spirit active in us is either bound by "do not open until" or "do not use after." Our world might tell us who is useful or not, or too young or too old. But we hear none of that in Scripture. In fact we hear the opposite- that the old have dreams to share and the young have visions to live out.  There will regularly be opportunities for you to share the love of Christ and the power for lives to be changed. It might look as simple as lightening someone else's mood. God will lead you to it and use you.
And the Holy Spirit will move you. And even when it something as simple as the story I shared, if you move with the Spirit, you will be moved.
But remember we are also a part of a body. When I told the folks at St Luke's nursing home this week, we could commiserate about how at any given time not all of our body parts are working as we would like. It's hard hear when part of the body is giving us grief or when we feel limited. Some of you know what that feels like. We know times we have ended up needing help from others when things are not as we wish. Paul does not tell us that we have to be the whole body all by ourselves. We have a purpose and God gives us each other. And we work together.
There are many ways we do that here as church- Feeding hungry people and Helping people in Disasters or in trouble. We have groups of adults and youth who travel to fix houses, and this summer we will travel to work at a food bank, and a community garden where the food is grown. We will help a therapeutic horse riding program and prepare a meal for the Ronald McDonald house. We have made fleece blankets for the Homeless Shelter, we have filled care packages for deployed military and sung songs at Providence Place. Old and young together. And there is so much more.
And we do all of this not just as the Body of Nice People.
We are the Body of Christ. Who love who Jesus loved, who love how Jesus loves. And who are sent by the Spirit and given what we need to proclaim the grace and mercy and love of God who is the Savior of the whole world. Look around- the world needs this and needs you.
And so as we celebrate how far God has brought you, we celebrate that by the Spirit you can claim your place.
So keep being the body of Christ. We need you to continue to be a part of the body- we are a much better body with you. And the Spirit has much more In store for us all. And you never know who you'll meet.
Let us pray- come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of your faithful people and kindle in us the fire of your love.