Veni Sancte Spiritus.
Come Holy Spirit
Jesus appeared among them and said,
o Peace be with you
o He showed them his hands and his side
o Peace be with you
o Breathed on them
o Receive the Holy Spirit
And then what?
World peace? No
Give up everything? No
Take up your cross and follow me? No!
Only this: forgive the sins of any and they are forgiven.
If you retain the sins of any, they are retained.
What is this about?
The first appearance to the gathered community;
No fireworks, no theatrics,
Just: receive the holy spirit and FORGIVE
You are probably tired of hearing about this but my life changed with the coming of our new bishop.
When I decided to get serious about my life as a Christian and prepared to preach at the consecration.
What, I wondered, is the first act of the new Bishop. Leading us in the confession of faith, leading us in the Nicene Creed.
One of the things I spent time with, in the preparation, was the Creed.
And I wondered, why would the Council at Nicaea put forgiveness in the top 7:
3. Holy Spirit
5. Baptism for the forgiveness of sins
6. Resurrection of the dead
7. Life of the world to come
Why is forgiveness in the top 7 hit parade of faith?
Every morning in my quiet time, I have a very informal litany I use. It changes. I don’t even really plan the changes; I just notice it.
I used to say, I believe in God.
Now I say, having learned from Marcus Borg,
I give my heart to you, O God.
I give my whole heart to you, Jesus
I give my heart to the church.
I give my heart to forgiveness.
I give my whole heart to forgiveness.
What would life be like if I could do this?
o What if I could truly forgive my father for the ways he damaged me
o What if I could forgive my son for the ways he has hurt me and disappointed me
o What if I could ask and give forgiveness to Liane. Yesterday we had a corker of a fight about whether to serve sliders or hamburgers. When we went to pick up the bread, we got in the fight again and had to leave the store. Where would we be if I could not say to her, “I am sorry. Will you forgive me?” We could not maintain a relationship without forgiveness.
What if we as a country could be a Christian nation in this aspect?
o What if we had forgiven Osama bin Laden
o Acknowledged our sin and
o Humbly asked for forgiveness
o What if we asked for forgiveness of those
o This country enslaved
o For the native population we tried to erase
What would our country be if we acknowledged that we do so many things to gain political points?
And decided to do what is right, regardless of politics? When I was an activist in Alexandria, I asked Jim Moran, who was then the mayor of Alexandria, why he would not do what we all knew was the right thing to do. “If I did that,” he said, “I would never get re-elected.”
What if we offered forgiveness to our enemies?
What if we humbly asked forgiveness when we sinned?
What if we believed that forgiveness is not just a nicety, not just courtesy, but CENTRAL to our faith?
Jesus appeared to the gathered community.
He offered his peace to them
Breathed on them
They received the Holy Spirit
And then he told them to forgive.
My first experience of the Episcopal Church was
And although I don’t agree with everything I learned then,
I am very grateful for what I learned.
I learned the Bible – in song and study
I learned to receive the Holy Spirit
I learned to have a personal relationship to God
I learned to tithe
And I learned about the personal and powerful manifestation of the Holy Spirit.
In 1977, I asked for a received the baptism in the Holy Spirit
And spoke in tongues
And in my arrogant innocence, I believed that my way was the only way.
That all persons must experience Pentecost as I had:
With a mighty wind and a speaking in tongues
And I am grateful for that experience.
Every morning as I prepare to preach
I stop, kneel down
And ask for God’s presence in my preaching
And I pray in tongues to open my heart.
But now I have come to realize that there are some who have a Pentecost experience
Which is wild and crazy – like a mighty wind and tongues of fire!!! I am, after all, the one who brings party poppers and bomb bags to trainings, who shouts and cries from the pulpit. It is probably no surprise that I would receive the Spirit with the same wildness.
And there are also those who receive the Holy Spirit as the gathered community did 2,000 years ago
As quietly as breath
With no visible and outward signs
With quiet receptiveness
In the gloom of the evening
Behind closed doors
Last night at dinner with friends, Perry said, “I have never doubted my faith”
In the quietness of his gathered community he knew.
Perry has no moment of conversion; he always knew.
Jesus appeared among them
And breathed on them
Receive the Holy Spirit
For the past month, I have had an ear worm
You know, the song that plays over and over in your head
It’s a Taize chant:
Veni Sancte Spiritus (sung) Come Holy Spirit
Over and over
Walking down the street: Veni Sancte Spiritus (sung)
Going to sleep Veni Sancte Spiritus (sung)
Driving Veni Sancte Spiritus (sung)
As we begin this new spirit of Easter,
I invite you to sing into Easter.
Veni Sancte Spiritus (sung)
I invite you to sing into forgiveness
Veni Sancte Spiritus (sung)
For forgiveness is not something to be demanded or grasped,
But opened to
And received like breath
Veni Sancte Spiritus (sung by all for a while)