Will you join me in a moment of prayer?
May these words, humbly offered, be filled with your spirit and through them, may be drawn closer to you and one another. Amen.
Are you the kind of person who likes to plan and prepare for an event?
Are you the kind of person who dives right into something?
Does your response depend on the situation?
Most of us are neither one nor the other, but a combination of both.
Imagine the first Pentecost…
That fearful band of followers of Jesus.
Their beloved leader who was put to death, rose three days later and spent the next 50 days seemingly popping in and out of situations, still preaching, teaching and healing.
And then he ascended into heaven.
Gone away again.
And then there was Pentecost… the day when the power of the Holy Spirit passed from Jesus’ presence to the disciples.
The day when the Holy Spirit came in a way that they could scarcely describe… a rushing wind… tongues of fire touching each one of them… and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit… and began to speak and hear in other languages… as the Spirit gave them ability.
And the church was born…
Are you ready for the Holy Spirit to blow through you?
Are you ready for the Holy Spirit to blow through this place?
Are you ready to be so filled that there is no room for fear and anxiety about our future?
Are you ready to let that wind and fire transform and inspire you?
Jesus’ followers weren’t changed by their own power.
That change came through the power of the Holy Spirit.
And that is important for us to remember… we are only the instruments through which the Holy Spirit blows.
We are not the Holy Spirit.
Jesus’ followers were no longer dependent on his physical presence… they kept him alive by gathering people together, sharing the stories and breaking bread together.
And those people did the same… until more than 2000 years later we do the same… we gather the people, we share the stories and we break the bread…
But…we don’t often share our stories of faith outside these walls…
Unlike those first followers, who couldn’t keep the stories to themselves, we rarely share our faith with another.
Are you ready to let the Holy Spirit speak through you to share your faith with another?
Are you ready for the Holy Spirit to inspire you and this faith community?
You are, in many ways, an amazing congregation.
From Sunday School, Bible Study and Study Groups, to the many ways we make music, to Variety Shows and monthly dinners, and of course, all the work of the Family Resource Centre.
The list is endless.
When I tell people what goes on here, they are often astounded as I continue to be.
But we both know that numbers in attendance are dwindling.
We may know intuitively that something needs to change, but we love what we are doing and we love this faith community and what it has been.
I invite you to ask yourself the question: what are you willing to let go of in order for this church to continue to be a vital presence in Spryfield?
In 1976, John Westerhoff wrote: Will Our Children Have Faith?
The question now is: Will Our Grandchildren Have Faith?
Notice I didn’t say that will our grandchildren come to church, but will they have faith.
The church has been a wonderful way of passing on the faith, it’s been a marvelous tool, but in its present form, its effectiveness seems to be low to a new generation.
Have we forgotten our purpose, which is to share the faith and through that faith, live transformed lives?
Our purpose is not to make good church people, but good disciples.
I love ministry, despite its challenges, there is no other way I would rather spend my days.
I love our denomination, not blindly, but with appreciation for its history and its continued emphasis on inclusion and justice.
I love you, this congregation,
I love Jesus and what his life teaches me. I still believe that his message of love, inclusion and breaking down of barriers of all sorts, has merit and meaning.
Perhaps in an ever increasing stratified and separated world, it has more merit and meaning than ever. But how his message is delivered will be different.
What are you willing to burn in the refining fire of Pentecost in order that the gospel may live on?
Next week, Kathy McKay, Valerie Connors and I are headed to the Annual Meeting of Maritime Conference.
One of the major pieces of business will be dealing with the report from the Comprehensive Review Task Group.
A report that is looking at a way forward.
I know that the church that nurtured me as a child and then as a youngish adult, the church that ordained me more than a decade ago, will be a church that is very different from what I have known.
The upcoming changes will be very painful for some and we must find some way to minister to those who find church in its present form meaningful and valuable.
But let’s not let church in its present form prevent us from living into new ways of being.
We were formed from a new vision, combining three denominations into one.
What is our vision for the future?
Let’s not be a denomination or a congregation stuck in time, let’s not have our history be a liability.
Let’s not lose sight of our purpose.
Pentecost arrives to remind us fire does not come only to consume. It comes also to bless, to call, to inspire, to give to us what we could never begin to imagine on our own. Jan Richardson – the painted prayerbook
Each one of us has been touched by the Holy Spirit.
Each one of us carries a spark of the divine fire within us.
Each one can be on fire for what God is up to now.
Let’s fan the flames! And spread the warmth around!
Thanks be to God for the challenge and the opportunity, amen
Catherine MacDonald 2015