As I read our Gospel text this week, in which we hear again about the disciples huddled with fear in the Upper Room, behind locked doors; I find myself wondering, I find myself wondering just how many of our sisters and brothers in this world are locked behind doors for fear of their lives. And I specifically wonder this week about those who are locked behind closed doors because the color of their skin. Longing for someone to come and proclaim peace in their midst, longing to be able to live out the fullness of sharing that peace with others themselves, free from the sin of the racism that has oppressed so many in this world.
Now we are all as members of humanity locked up and longing in one or many ways. Longing for the basics of food and water, shelter and reasonable assurance of safety. Longing for acceptance. Longing for love. Longing in our various struggles and the vagaries of grief. In fact these longings, if we can once identify them; these longings may become an inroad, a holy pathway upon which God in Christ can build our hearts of compassion, and light our hearts on fire with the Holy Spirit’s desire to meet others who are also locked up and longing; so that all of us may come to know that we are not alone, and that Christ’s peace is intended for all of humanity.
For just as we hear in 1 Corinthians that there are a variety of gifts but one Spirit, so, too, there are a variety of ways in which grief comes to stand on our doorsteps, and one Spirit that seeks to send us with our particular giftedness from house to house, utilizing our gifts on God’s behalf, proclaiming that the Sovereign of Peace, the risen Christ is at hand – for all.
I believe it was this power of the Holy Spirit activating the people of God to fling open the doors of Holy Spirit Lutheran Church in Minneapolis this past week as they provided water, food, bathrooms and even mental health counselors for the community, while protests raged on the streets. This Spirit has kept them ministering as they have organized donations of tools and plywood to help small business owners batten down the hatches and sent out a call that God’s love and their support for neighbors and neighborhood is available for anyone and everyone. All of this as they cry out against the racism that has sparked these riots and specifically the recent killing of George Floyd.
The folks of Holy Spirit Lutheran Church and many others seem to have received the breath of the Holy Spirit that Jesus breathed on those first disciples and continues to breathe on us and this world for the in-breaking of the Light amidst the powers of darkness. This breathe of Christ through the Holy Spirit is intended to fill the aching lungs and the longing hearts of this world. And I am wondering how Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit can bring further the armies of light to meet the needs of these days.
On that first Pentecost the Spirit descended in a way that made it possible for the people gathered to understand one another. Oh how we need that power of understanding to take precedence and ascendance right now! So we must cry out for justice and we must cry out for people to listen to those who have too long been marginalized and silenced.
In another one of the Gospels, on the day of the procession of palms, Jesus says that if the people were silent that the very rocks would cry out “Hosanna to the King!” So, too, if we are silent in the face of racism and other “isms” that fly in the face of God’s loving, peace-filled intent for humanity, the Holy Spirit will find other vessels. So we must not be silent.
Sisters and brothers, the Church must not be silent. We must not be lulled into false contentment when we find ourselves, and our own neighborhoods relatively safe. For as Dr. King reminded the world, until we are all safe, until we are all free, none of us are safe and none of us are free.
So I call on us today as a church, as a portion of Christ’s body in this world, to enter into a time of prayer leading to a time of action. For God’s revelation in Christ through the cross reaches across the ages through the power of the Holy Spirit to lay claim to you and I so that the gifts with which we have been entrusted might be shared as part of Christ’s redeeming work for the world. I do not pretend to know where these prayers will lead us, in some ways Holy Trinity had a clear path because evil had beat a pathway to their very doors. But I do know that we do not have to be on the streets of Minneapolis to realize that evil is afoot everywhere, including in the complacency that can sometimes grow in those of us living distant from the protests and riots might all too easily fallen into.
Oh, my sisters and brothers, Christ is calling us to action – calling us to open the locked doors of this world and the locked doors of our very own hearts for the sake of every person who in any way must fear for themselves as they seek to go about their daily lives. Calling us to have the longings of those marginalized become our longings; calling us to pray and then act and then pray and then act until our very lives become an offering, a pouring out of the Holy Spirit for the world; a pouring out of Christ’s love, mercy, and justice for the world. Amen.