Today is Pentecost Sunday. “There shall be showers of blessing: This is the promise of love/There shall be seasons refreshing, sent from the Savior above/ Showers of blessing, showers of blessing we need/ Mercy-drops round us are falling, but for the showers we plead” (Hymn by D. W. Whittle, 1883). One hope that we frequently shared this past year is that we want to sing hymns out loud. I really look forward to the day when our hope will be finally fulfilled with official church reopening in July.
On Saturday of May 22, our church held Springtime Bazaar for local missions. Church members brought gifts and donations, while our UM Men and Women have put in a lot of effort to organize the day’s event. The beautiful sharing that took place was the fruits of our congregations’ commitment and self-sacrifice. In the preface of a recently published book by Chun Byungsik, I found a phrase that seems to speak to our hard work as a church: [After] the work, mission, and ministry of the congregation…must come a happy fatigue that inherits the communal fatigue of the Pentecost. It must be the beautiful fatigue that leads its neighbors and the society into rest and peace – a very different kind from the unhappy fatigue that exudes selfish interests at the cost of depriving others…
The beautiful heart that planted flowers around the church, the kind heart that shared its goods with others, the warm heart that repaired and freshly repainted what has been dirty and broken – all these are the fruits of beautiful fatigue and source of rest and peace brought forth by the Holy Spirit.
The descent of the Holy Spirit transformed the selfish hearts into giving hearts to build up the community of Jesus’ disciples. Along came the gift of healing that spread as the healed grew into healers themselves. Those who were hiding in fear were empowered to go out and boldly testify that Jesus is Christ. What happened during and after the Pentecost was spiritual transformation: transformed individuals expanded the ministry of Christ and spread the Good News of salvation, thereby transforming communities and the world.
Apostle Paul advised, “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life” (Tim 6:18-19), and the Holy Spirit has planted this Word of God in the hearts of our congregation. Through all the difficulties of the coronavirus pandemic, I’m very thankful that God propelled us to keep up the sharing and serving. During the time of crisis, we kept up Scripture writing, reading, meditating, and memorizing for the “surpassing worth of knowing Christ” (Phil 3:8). Whether in our relationship with the local community or in partnership with other churches, or in our connection with our denomination, we tried to be a church that acts with “noble character” as the community in Berea (Acts 17:11).
The title of this Sunday’s sermon is “Conscious Contact with God.” The aim is to open all areas of our lives to focus more, intently and earnestly, on God. It’s the spirituality we want to live out. And as Ricard Rohr points out, we seek this not to change God, but to be willing to let God change us through obedience and self-surrender.
I’m reminded of “Spirit of the Living God” by Paul Armstrong. It goes, “Spirit of the living God/fall afresh on me/ Break me, melt me, mold me, fill me/ Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.” Then second verse by Michael Baughen goes, “Spirit of the living God, move among us all. Make us one in heart and mind, make us one in love: Humble, caring, selfless, sharing. Spirit of the living God, fill our lives with love.”
May the Spirit of the living God stir us and move us to live out this song, both in heart and in life.