Good morning and a blessed Pentecost to you! I am Jim Jelinek, serving Trinity Church, Newport with my friend and colleague, The Rev. Alan Neale.
The Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ According to John [20:19-23]:
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” The Gospel of the Lord.
PEACE BE WITH YOU! This is hardly a time of peace, is it? The fear of contracting this dreaded virus has unsettled much of humanity throughout the world, so much so that we can easily become short with one another and speak in harmful ways. Our uncertainty about trusting has exposed the “always just below the surface racism” that has affected and infected our beloved country just about from our beginnings. Demonstrations are going on in numerous cities across the nation, particularly where there have been clear instances of police brutality. And of course, whenever people clamor to be heard on the public stage, there are always those within the group who enjoy whipping a crowd into greater anger, and not just outrage but genuine rage. The see city of my former diocese is on fire—some of its buildings, and many people’s hearts. When I think back to how hard we worked as a diocese to look at the racism in our hearts and the institutional racism of our diocese, and when I see what happened this week in Minneapolis, my heart is breaking and my sadness and grief are almost overwhelming.
PEACE BE WITH YOU! I am saying this to myself, trying to take the words of Jesus on Easter night into my heart, because I am not at peace. When I look at all the divisions in our country, now symbolized by mask or no mask, I am deeply disturbed by a President who has done about everything he can imagine in order to sow the seeds of division; he repeats his lies so often, especially against the authority of military experts and scientists that many no longer trust the experience and wisdom they give for the sake of all of us; he enjoys shaming and cruelty; he delights in increasing the wealth of the wealthy and taking it from those who are not. I shudder to think how much more damage he can do before the end of his term, particularly since there is no one, no one to rein him in.
PEACE BE WITH YOU! I write this on Saturday morning, and fortunately I just took a break for Morning Prayer. There was real meat in the lessons and prayers this morning, what I need to take in and digest. We read in one of my favorite passages from the Book of Ezekiel the following [36:26-27a]:
“A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you.”
I needed that. It prefigures Jesus breathing the Holy Spirit into the apostles on Easter night, and the Holy Spirit coming in a violent wind and tongues of fire to inspire the gathered disciples on Pentecost. It reminds me that our ancestors in Biblical times needed to hear such words of hope, as have our spiritual ancestors in every generation. As we do today.
At the conclusion of Morning Prayer, I read both of the last two passages. The first is from Paul’s Letter to the Romans [15:13]:
May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The second is from Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians [3:20,21]:
Glory to God who power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to him from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. Amen.
Now my soul is full again. We need every bit of joy and peace that the Spirit can give in this generation as much as any in the past. Come, Holy Spirit, come! Amen.
A blessed day to you, and may our hope spring eternal!