- The Rev. Arianne Rice
We All Want to Be Understood
Feast of Pentecost, 5/23/21
Peter said, `In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.
I will pour out my Spirit – on all people (Acts 2)
You may have noticed that we did not hear Peter’s speech this morning. I’ll summarize the upper room Pentecost narrative which is one I know you know so well.
Peter and those disciples all hidden away in the upper room – when a rush of wind sweeps through the group and tongues of fire alights on everyone’s shoulder somehow – and then the cacophony of voices begins.
Not praying in tongues or ecstatic speech – but everyone – speaking in their own language. Saying what they need to say in their native tongue – about how God has been at work in their life.
Each person in their own way – their own story - proclaiming the good news – how when and who made known the good news of God’s – the forgiveness and mercy of God – how they came to know the love of God.
And the miracle in that Pentecost story is that everyone understood. Everyone could hear and listen and understand all the stories – even though some were strangers – many came from different lands – everyone’s gospel story made sense.
Some listened and were amazed (wow) – others, the ones who feel threatened, sneered, How can this be? They must just be drunk on new wine.
No, Peter replies, it’s only 9 am in the morning. This is a party of another kind – not the pouring out of new wine – but the pouring out of the Holy Spirit.
That which fills us with energy and enthusiasm – the Spirit that inspires and encourages and propels us to dream dreams and envision – see right in front of us - the reality of God’s family that Jesus promised.
The Spirit that fills our hearts – not our heads – but our hearts with the truth of our connection. Our connection and ability to understand each other thus strengthening our connection and understanding of God.
The Advocate – the Holy Spirit – a gift of God to know we are not alone.
The Spirit that guides and leads and groans along with us and all creation – as we wait. Wait for what? What does adoption mean? That’s what I want to talk about this morning. What I – and maybe you – might consider waiting for.
A story was poured out for me the other day – one of those good ones you can see like a movie as it is being told – I cannot promise to live up to that – because it’s not my story – but here goes.
This friend of mine was having a very hard year – this was back several years ago. She was blindsided by revelations of her husband’s addictions and that he wanted a divorce. She felt alone. She did not live near family – and even if she did – she was so filled with shame at what was happening she would not have told them anyway.
She kept telling herself that if she could just hold it together – just get through this without falling apart – it would all be ok on the other side. There was just one thing she wanted more than anything – and she asked God for it all the time – if I could just be held. If one person who could hold me, Lord, that’s what I need to keep holding myself together.
The year dragged on – she was near that finish line but not there yet. So one day she gets in her car to go to work. Picture Boston – if you can picture downtown past the long outdoor green space that runs along Comm Ave towards State street. She is pulling up to State Street – when she sees that a flock of geese are crossing the street so she stops her car.
Now in her rear view mirror she sees a truck – like a real truck – coming down state street and there are cars between her and the truck – and there is no way she is going to let this truck hit these geese – so she turns her car out of the lane a bit. But the truck’s speed does not change.
So – she gets out of her car stands in front of the door makes an X with her arms so it is quite clear that the truck needs to stop. Which – not seeing anything but her – the truck driver does.
He slams on his brakes – rolls down his window – and unleashes a torrent of phrases – that are the opposite of the cacophony of phrases said in that upper room. He is mad – and she is used to taking it – and she does.
When he stops and comes up for air – she asks, “Do you have a gun?” And he’s like – “No” as in don’t be ridiculous. So, she gives it to him – as good as she got – pouring out her own anger driven diatribe right back at him – somewhat fueled by the situation – but really and truly – by the anger and resentment and fury that has been building in her for months.
And then she comes up for air – and then – finally the truck driver sees and says, “Oh – the geese.” And he gets out of his truck and says, “I’m so sorry – I’m really sorry.”
And those two words – the words of understanding and acknowledgement and apology – broke her. Hearing those words, for the first time in a long time, even from a stranger, she shared, broke open something inside me and I fell to the street, sobbing. He reached down to help me up – but my legs were spaghetti – so he picked me up – and held me and said, “I don’t know what you’re going through but we can just stand her a minute so you can let it out.”
And she did – for a minute – and then she thought – wow God, really? Definitely not what I meant but being held – being understood – was what I’d been praying for. Waiting for.
That’s what she was really waiting for – what we’re all really waiting for.
It’s not just about getting to the other side of whatever challenge, or problem, or difficult circumstance we’re facing in our lives. It’s being seen, held, understood right now – wherever we are – in whatever language we are using.
The Advocate – the Holy Spirit not only leads us to those interactions of understanding – where we are held, or seen, or listened to – the Spirit is what is a healing power generated between us and all creation – in that relational space between.
The circumstances of our lives – no matter how challenging – are not keeping us from knowing the Spirit right now. The Advocate is right here – offering – pouring out – waiting for us to accept our adoption as God’s beloved.
What are you waiting for? What are we waiting for? I hope you attend our Zoom annual meeting – I know the Spirit is present in that Zoomscape just as much as if we were in our Parish Hall. Give thanks for all the faces you see – seek understanding over difference. Partner with the Advocate to invite people to participate in the life of the Spirit through this place – lift up your voice in your own language and contribute to God’s dream.
(Tremendous thanks to Cherie for sharing this story “Geese Guy” on The Moth podcast. Listen here.)