Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fire and Heat

The other day my husband said he was glad to hear people complaining about the heat. "Yeah," I replied, "I'm sick of this heat, too." Then I realized he meant the Miami Heat, playing for the National Basketball championship. "Oh," I said.

But I do complain about the heat and the lack of rain. Sunday we had a pool party for the six young people who will be confirmed in their faith this coming week. I don't enjoy wearing bathing suits so I went dressed in shorts and a polo. We grilled burgers and sausage, ate in the shade, and the young folks played in the water. The adults sat around and talked about this and that, watching the kids frolic and splash. After about an hour and a half I couldn't take it any longer. I had to head home to the air conditioning and my Sunday afternoon nap. I guess I just can't endure the heat any more.

This Sunday is Pentecost and it will be a hot one. People are encouraged to wear red outfits for the occasion as the color red represents the Holy Spirit. Pentecost celebrates the fire of God that enters our world and sears us. The scripture reading from Acts says that the Holy Spirit landed on the disciples like tongues of fire. It's a vivid, blistering image - flames flickering down from the skies, licking at our ears, our skin, our hair. All that fire and heat - it sounds dangerous, like the time the lighted candles got too close to an acolyte's hair and ignited it!

Six young people at Shepherd King have completed two years of studying about the Christian faith. They have been reading the Bible, learning the 10 Commandments, getting to know God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In the process we've all gotten to know each other as well. Now the instruction is finished and the moment has come for them to claim this faith, to be further claimed by God in Jesus Christ. So on Sunday we will present these six to God and ask God to burn them with fire, to stir them with relentless passion for justice, love and truth. We'll ask God to show them dreams of a world recreated in Jesus Christ, to give them visions of being new people here and now. The heat of God's love will break over us in the Holy Spirit, summoning us to get up, go out and spread the joy and peace of Jesus to all around us. It's going to be a hot one this Sunday; no one will be left untouched.

On Pentecost God comes as a flame, as an inferno, disturbing our equilibrium and disrupting our comfort. On Pentecost it is not enough for us to be nice people or quiet Christians. The heat is on - God is alive, pushing us to live deeply, to open ourselves to others, to love without fear, to give without counting the cost. There is an urgency in the air - it is time, time to give up old ways and enter into the new ways of God in Jesus Christ. The tongues of fire will descend on Sunday and our six confirmands will reject sin, renounce the devil and all the ways of evil. They will acknowledge Jesus as Lord and pledge their lives and their loyalty to God, alone.

This time, embrace the heat. Come and witness the passion, the power of God at work among us. Join us for worship on Pentecost Sunday as the Holy Spirit enfolds us, as our six young people profess their faith, as God transforms the world - a life, a community, at a time.

Burning together,
Pastor Kris

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