Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sermon for June 29, 2014

Rev. George Miller
Matthew 10:40-42
“Love of God”
June 29, 2014

For the last 6 months I’ve been faithfully going to Gold’s Gym. As a non-athlete, the first few trips were a bit uncomfortable: where are the machines, do I know how to use them, does this outfit make me look fat and does anybody know me?

Eventually the worries wore off and going to Gold’s has become something to look forward too.

It’s not just a place to lift weights, take classes and get in shape, but it’s the social hot spot for Sebring, a place of community.

First, there’s the recognition of someone’s face who goes at the same time each day, then the non-verbal head-nod that says “I see you.” Then the verbal “hello” or “what’s up?”

Then the exchange of names, the handshake, or the fist bump which really lets you know you belong.

Eventually you start to notice the groups of people who work out together or conversate at the gym.

There’s the juice heads, the jocks, the cops, the high school wrestlers and footballers, the pack of middle-aged men, the youth who sport facial hair and tats, the women who take every conceivable class, those who only use machines, those who only use free weights, those who always seem to be on some type of moving machine.

I enjoy going to Gold’s because even if I don’t know the people there, I know them and that’s cool.

Last Tuesday I took the 6 pm Spin Class, getting there 10 minutes early, finding a bike, warming up.

A young woman came in, possibly early 20s, selected the bike to my right. A guy in his 40s sat on the bike to my left. Another guy, I guess in his 30s sat next to him and then an older man with white hair sat next to the young woman.

Then something unexpected happened: we all started talking. It may not seem like a big deal, but that never happened before, usually people are so focused on preparing for the intense work-out.

The girl joked with me, the guy with the white hair responded, the other two guys chimed in with their thoughts and like that, we had a 5-way conversation going on with people I’d never met before.

For me, it created a moment of belonging, which for a non-athlete is an important emotion to feel when in a gym. And let’s be honest: we all want to belong, to something, kinda like in high school.

Do ya’ll remember what high school was like? That desire to fit in and know you are accepted?

Those school days, when we wanted to belong to a group that would affirm our identity and perhaps the pathway to popularity?

Because regardless if you scored a touchdown, won the talent show, dated the class king or queen or aced the spelling bee you got the chance to hear applause, and applause says “I love you.”

And we all want to be loved.

High school is one of life’s most formative and painful experiences. No one had it easy, no matter what their outside persona may suggest.

The jocks worried about staying on top of their game. The beauty queens worried about keeping up their appearances. The preps worried about keeping up their iconic style. Don’t fumble the ball, don’t gain weight, and look out for that roving zit.

Disappointment in not getting the lead role of the play or the solo in chorus or failing to place in the science fair. The shame if you were caught pregnant or had to drop out to support your family.

Everyone else looking up at one another, admiring them, hating them, wanting to be them.

All wanting nothing more that to be popular, to be accepted: to be loved.

This need carries over into the rest of our lives. For after all, isn’t life just an extension of our high school days?

We seek out a job; doesn’t matter if it’s in an office, an assembly line or in the public eye, we want our co-workers to like us; we often know where we fit in and when we stick out.

We desire to be loved by our children; to be their source of happiness and hope.

We desire to be loved by a special person who’ll be with us for the rests of our days.

We all have a need to be loved, and if we really look at all we do, many times our motivation is to be and to receive love.

We try to avoid things that may make us unpopular or deemed as unlovable, like controversies or making touch decisions for the right reasons.

That need to be loved can be used for the good, inspiring us to be productive workers, pushing us to a level of excellence we never thought possible, inspiring us to try things we may not usually do.

The danger is when we leave behind our true selves in the hopes of being loved; when we go against our principles, when we embark in risky behavior because we think it will bring us closer to that love.

Employers and parents may give up their authority and ability to lead because they think it will make their employees or children love them more.

Partners will try to ignore indiscretions or abusive behavior because they think it will earn them love.

Teenagers will engage in dangerous behavior because they think it will bring them acceptance from their peers.

People will stay quiet and hide their true feelings because they’re afraid that saying what they truly believe will cause a withdrawal of love.

Love is perhaps the most powerful force in the world, controlling and directing where we go, what we do and who we associate with.

But the truth is, is that we can’t be loved by everybody. Not everyone sees us with the same set of eyes and same heart. Not everyone notices us when we walk on by or lift up our voice.

And for some people, that is OK. They look around at what do they have and can proudly say “I have enough love in my life already.”

But for others, that need to be loved is so great they can’t handle the notion of not having everyone falling for their charms or thinking they’re the best.

Being loved by everyone at all times is not a reality. So as we mature, we learn to accept this fact and instead give thanks for those who do indeed love us and the roles they play in our lives.

I believe that is part of what Jesus is talking about to the disciples in today’s reading.

Jesus is sending the disciples out into the world to do the work of God’s Kingdom: to teach and preach the Good News, to heal the sick and to raise the dead.

Jesus uses affirming, positive language, telling them them to pay attention to those who want to talk with them and to receive them.

He focuses the disciples’ attention on the positive when he says “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me...and whosoever gives even a cup of cold water…will (not) lose their reward.”

In essence Jesus is saying “Don’t pay attention to the 9 who don’t like you, but instead be thankful for the 1 person who does.”

Jesus helps the disciples to focus on the task on hand instead of focusing on their own need to be popular and liked. Perhaps most importantly he is also calling their attention to the one who loves them most of all: God.

The work the disciples are about to embark on is not for their own personal glory or for the glory of their group, but it’s for the glory of God.

And the God they are being called to work for is the God of the Utmost Love.

It is the God who was so filled with love that God’s love overflowed into Creation, giving light to the darkness and order to the chaos and confusion.

It is love that prompted God to free the Hebrew slaves, to give the Law, to send the prophets.

The love of God is not something to be ignored or easily taken for granted, because there are too many people wandering through life believing God doesn’t love them or could not possibly love them.

And without that love they feel lost, without that love they feel lonely, they feel they are unable to love back or search for a love that is right for them.

But the love that God has for us is real, the love that God has for us is eternal.

And that is the love that prompted God, in the perfect fullness of time, to send us God’s son, Jesus Christ, bringing us closer to him.

When we accept Christ, truly accept Christ, we actually begin to feel just how real the grace and love of God truly is.

As we grow closer to Christ, the more we seek first the Kingdom of God, the more we can’t help but to feel even more loved by God.

When we feel more loved, when we know and accept that we are loved, we want to do even more for God.

That’s the kind of love I believe was within Joseph: a love that empowered him to go against all cultural norms, to take Mary as his wife even though she was already pregnant.

In doing so, Joseph’s love helped to usher Jesus into our world.

That’s the kind of love dwelled within Mary Magdalene, allowing her to stand before the cross when others had abandoned Jesus, a love that gave her the courage to wake up early Sunday morning and make her way to the empty tomb.

In doing so, Mary’s love helped to report the news of the Resurrection.

That’s the kind of love that dwelled within Paul, allowing him to travel all over, establishing new churches, and to speak the truth with conviction.

In doing so, Paul’s love helped to spread the message of Christ throughout the world.

Love is the basis of Jesus’ teachings; to love God and to love neighbor as self.

It is with this love that Jesus sends the disciples out into the world, and it is love that he asks them to embrace. Not the need to make a name for themselves; not the popularity others crave.

But to be the best they can be, to go out to the lost sheep, to speak the Good News and share with all the love of God found in Christ.

In conclusion, when we become aware of that love, when we are willing to embrace that love, we are able to tell what truly matters from what truly does not, freeing us to do justice, to love kindness and to continue walking humbly with our Lord.

It is not about becoming the most popular or the most liked but it’s about saying “God loves me so much, and that is enough.

Therefore I will continue to seek first the kingdom of God and to share that great, glorious news.”

All thanks and praise be to Jesus Christ who sets us on the journey, to the Holy Spirit that gives us the energy and a voice, and to God, our Creator, for being oh so good.

Amen and amen.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

June 22, 2014 Sermon; Matthew 9:2-26

Rev. George Miller
Matthew 9:2-26
“Ministry Pie”
June 22, 2014

On Wednesday Rita brought in lunch for the Willing Workers- delicious shrimp alfredo, fresh tomatoes, homemade bread and Philadelphia cream cheese bars that smelt like a New York pastry and looked like a lemon bar.

Now, let me tell ya’ll: I make a pretty good lemon bar, and I’ve branched out to make lemon-lime bars, coconut-pineapple-lemon bars, and orange-lemon bars

All of these deserts feature rich, gooey, lemony goodness. The recipe is easy:

3/4 cup of butter. 3 eggs. 1 ½ cup of sugar. 1 ½ cups of flour, plus an extra 3 tablespoons. 2/3 cup of powdered sugar with additional powdered sugar to be sprinkled on the finished product.

But here’s the thing that fascinates me: there’s hardly any lemon used. The last ingredient: 1/4 cup of lemon juice.

If we were going for mass quantity alone, a more accurate name for the dessert would be flour & egg bars, but that just doesn’t have the right sound to it. Although sugar-butter bars does have a ring to it.

Just goes to show that when it comes to baking or cooking sometimes what defines the dish is the lesser of all the ingredients…sort of like ministry.

Ministry is an odd thing- the notion of someone having the responsibility of caring for God’s beloved people.

Ministry has many meanings. If I was to ask each of you what you thought the main task of a minister is, we’d get a variety of answers, but the two main answers would be to preach and to provide care.

But if we were to use the baking analogy and think of ministry as a baked item, like a lemon bar or a homemade pie, we’d quickly realize that preaching and caring are just two ingredients. There are many others, which we witness in today’s reading.

Matthew 9 gives us a brief yet busy glimpse of a day in the life of Jesus’ ministry. It starts off with Jesus sailing across the sea and immediately being approached to provide healing to a paralyzed man.

Later Jesus calls a tax collector to follow him. He shares a meal with sinners. His day is interrupted by two unplanned pastoral emergencies.

But those aren’t the only events in his day. Jesus consoles his leaders, assuring them that they’re doing a good job. There is public relations as talk gets around town about what he has done.

Then there’s a huge chunk of his day spent dealing with criticisms and complaints. Not everyone agrees with how he gets things done; not everyone is ready to embrace the Good News he is offering.

All of these things are ingredients that make up one day of ministry pie.

A few years ago I read this scripture and thought to myself “This story is a litmus test for people who are thinking about the ministry, be it pastors, chaplains, council members, and volunteers.”

If someone reads this passage and crinkles up their nose as if they smell something funny, then it may be a sign that hands-on ministry and church leadership is not for them.

If they say with trepidation “I’ll take a little taste” and then spit it out, well, maybe now’s not the time.

But if they chew for a while and say “yum” or “Give me another big ol’ slice,” then that’s a sign that ministry may just be their calling.

And just like lemon bars, the main ingredient of ministry may not always be what you think.

Let’s look at these 18 verses of Jesus’ day as if they were indeed a recipe for Ministry Pie.

Jesus calls Matthew to discipleship. So that’s one verse, or 5.5% of his day/the story.

Jesus sits and eats with the people. That’s another 5.5% of his day.

Jesus is involved in some kind of healing in three verses, so that’s 16.7% of his day.

22.2% of his day deals with unexpected, unscheduled ministerial needs.

So Jesus spends 49.9% of his day doing hands-on, caring ministry within the community.

That leaves 50.1% of his time-what’s it spent on?

Jesus spends 4 verses with the disciples who are stressed out and worried about what others are saying. So that’s 22.2% of his day dealing with church leadership issues and morale.

Jesus then spends 22.2% of the day dealing with the criticism, comments and laughter of people who are not happy with the way he is doing things or don’t believe what he is saying...

That’s leaves 5.5% of the day, which Jesus has no control over, as people spread the word around town about what he is doing.

That means Jesus has spent 44.4% of the story dealing with conflict resolution and administration.

Those are interesting ingredients for ministry pie now, aren’t they?

Makes me wonder how much more Kingdom-based work Jesus and the disciples could have accomplished if they didn’t have to focus so much attention on that 44.4%...

This is a suitable scripture for today as we prepare for the next 6 months of ministry, as we continue to discern where God is directing us, as we further open ourselves to the limitless possibilities of the Holy Spirit as it continues to guide us in the steps of Jesus Christ.

And who knows just where God is taking us, how God will challenge us or what will be revealed.

We had a glimpse of this on Monday as the Service Committee opened our church doors to the local community and welcomed 25 families consisting of 54 adults and 31 children, greeting them with warm smiles, tasty treats, genuine conversation and they left with three days worth of food.

We’ll have further glimpses of this when we host our third annual Vacation Bible School in July in which the children will worship God, eat fresh cooked meals, participate in Bible-based lessons and engage in various physical, social and arts-based activities.

And we wait and wonder who will be called to be our next Director of Music after July 31.

The Nominating Committee borrows a few ingredients from Jesus as they symbolically walk along the shore, calling forth people to let down their nets and come fish for people.

All of us continue to minster to one another: to those who are hurting, to those dealing with issues of life and death, those who feel like they are lost, lonely or perhaps or unclean.

Should we spend 44.4% of our time and energy judging and criticizing or do we use that time to continue working together, reassuring and lifting up our faithful volunteers and appointed leaders?

Should we spend our time being Monday morning quarterbacks or being fruitful cheerleaders and believing God is using our hands, our hearts, and our abilities to further the Kingdom of Heaven right here on our unique piece of earth?

For the ingredients to work together and to make everything taste oh so good, it means we continue to listen for that Still Speaking Voice.

We balance logic with faith, reality with trust, and the wounds of the world with the magnificent mystery of the Resurrection.

It means we continue to welcome people where they are, as they are, and for who they are.

It means offering the opportunity for wholeness to those who are hurting, no matter the sin, no matter their story.

It means that we never stop seeking first the Kingdom of God and trusting that in Jesus Christ we have enough.

What are the ingredients of Ministry Pie? Micah would say it’s to do justice, to love kindness and to continue walking humbly with our Lord.

It’s such a simple recipe, yet Jesus has simplified it even more “Love the Lord with all you heart and all your soul and love you neighbor as yourself.”

Love and God: 2 ingredients used to make life and ministry a delicious delight.

We began baking nearly 25 years ago when Rev. Loffer and our founding members started our church in a bingo hall.

Are we ready to continue baking for another 25?

Thanks to God we already have the ingredients, thanks to Jesus Christ we already have our Master Chef, and thanks to the Holy Spirit we already have the fire and the heat to do so.

Amen and amen.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Sermon for Father's Day; June 15, 2014

Rev. George Miller
Matthew 9:35-10:8
“Peter Was a Rolling Stone”
June 15, 2014

(Scripture tells us Peter had a mother-in-law, which means he had a wife, and perhaps kids. This character-based message is given by an imagined son of Peter.)

How y’all doing? Me? I’m better now that boring old Torah lessons with Rabbi Brooks is over.

Today we were asked to name who our hero is and why. Most of the boys picked the obvious names. You know: Moses, Gideon and David. Boring!

Me? I said “My Dad.” Some of my friends laughed, but you know what? Let them because my Dad is the coolest Dad around.

Some know him as Peter, others call him Simon, and others call him Simon Peter. I just call him Dad.

I remember what Dad was like before Rabbi Jesus came into our lives. He was a fisherman with my Uncle Andrew.

They worked long days, waking up before the sunrise and not coming home until sunset. He and Uncle Andy would start each day getting the nets set up and checking the sky and the current to guess what the catch would be like.

They’d sail off into the Sea of Galilee and cast their nets out upon the water. Then they’d wait, and wait, and wait some more.

After spending all day in the boat, he and Uncle Andy would come back to shore, bring their catch to the local market to be weighed and receive their pay.

Then they’d have to clean the boat from top to bottom, wash and mend the nets and sails. Then make their way home for the night, Dad smelling like the sea and looking like the sun.

If it was a good day Dad would come home tired but happy and with a treat for us to have after supper.

If it wasn’t a good day? Dad would come home slouched over and quiet. I learned on those days to be well behaved and give him some space.

Before Jesus came into our lives, it seemed like Dad was coming home less and less with smiles and treats and more and more tired and slouched.

At night I’d hear Dad and Mom fight about the bills and taxes and how we couldn’t survive much longer without a big catch.

Mom wasn’t sure if she could stretch out our olive oil and grain much further. Dad wasn’t sure how much longer his back and hands would last.

I’d get knots in my stomach listening to them and I’d pray to God for a better way. One day God answered my prayer in the form of Jesus.

It was said that on the day he was baptized the heavens opened and the Spirit of God came upon Jesus like a dove and there was a voice from heaven saying “This is my Son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

We figured these were just made up stories, you know- to pass the time. But word got around that Jesus was proclaiming that the Kingdom of God was near and people were describing him as a great light and a fulfiller of the prophecies.

One day, my Dad and Uncle Andrew were casting their nets into the sea when Jesus walked by and called to them, saying “Follow me and I will make you fishers of people.”

My father, not the kind taken to whims, said that there was something unique about this man, a presence, and he just knew this was the promised Son of God they had been waiting for.

And like that Dad and Uncle Andrew put down their nets and followed Jesus!

Dad said it was if all his worries were no more, and that by following Jesus he knew he’d have “enough.” And Dad was right.

That was an exciting time. My Dad, Uncle Andy and a group of men and women followed Jesus all over the place: from Galilee to Jerusalem to the mountaintops.

Jesus called them blessed, “the lights of the world” and he taught them about the importance of being man (or woman) enough to turn the other cheek and about being humble in everything you do.

Jesus taught them not to depend so much on material things but to look at the birds of the air and the blooms of the field.

Dad told me that Jesus had the ability to heal others and how people flocked to him to be restored.

I didn’t believe it until the time my Bubbie was sick and Jesus came into our home and with one touch my grandma was up and out of bed.

This went on for awhile: my Dad and Uncle following Jesus, listening to him teach, watching him heal and reach out to the undesirables.

Then one day Jesus let it be known that it was time for Dad and Uncle Andrew to also minster to God’s people.

Jesus told his followers that they were to go out two by two and proclaim the Good News, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, and cast out demons.

They were to travel light, only stay where they were welcomed, and if they weren’t, to simply shake the dirt off of their feet and go to their next destination.

The night before Dad left, I overhead he and Mom talking. He was afraid, saying it would be risky. He wasn’t sure he could do all that Jesus was asking. He saw himself as unqualified and inexperienced.

Mom reminded him that Jesus wouldn’t have asked Dad if he was not sure he could do it.

Funny thing is, their conversation didn’t bother me. I didn’t get those odd knots in my stomach like I had before. In fact, ever since Dad began following Jesus I didn’t get those knots at all.

It’s hard to explain, but even though Dad was no longer fishing full time, we seemed to have more than enough of food, money and comfort.

But can I be honest? There was awhile when I resented Jesus. I felt like he was taking my Dad away from me. And I was mad at my Dad because I felt like he was deserting me.

I wondered if I had done something wrong.

I got angry at God, wondering why, out of all the people in the world, he had to call my Dad to spread the Good News when it meant my family got to spend so little time with him.

When Dad came back from that excursion, I noticed something different about him. He wasn’t quiet or slouching. He was smiling. He looked relaxed. He whistled songs, he told jokes and shared stories about all they had seen and done.

I realized that my Dad had changed for the better, and it was because of Jesus. I also realized that I’d rather have a happy Dad some of the time then a sad dad most of the time.

Jesus noticed Dad’s change to. One day, when my Dad called Jesus “The Messiah” Jesus responded by calling my father blessed and said “From now on I will call you Peter, the rock...”

My father said he felt that at that moment not only did his name change, but it was like he had been born anew and that this was what he had been created to do, his purpose in life.

From then, there was almost nothing my Dad wouldn’t do for Jesus. True, he made some major mistakes, he had some lapses in faith, and his biggest regret: the night he denied knowing Jesus not once but three times.

Those were tough times for all of us. They arrested Jesus on some trumped up charges and crucified him as an enemy of the state.

Never before had I seen my father look so scared. For a brief spell it was as though all hope was gone.

Dad and Uncle Andrew and the others went into hiding, unsure if they’d be next. But an amazing thing happened.

My father said that on Sunday the women had gone to the tomb and found that not only was the stone rolled back, but the tomb empty.

Later that day, Jesus came back and spoke to them and reminded them that God had given them all the authority and ability to do all the things Jesus had done.

They were to continue going out into the world, doing just as they had been doing: preaching and teaching, healing and baptizing.

The light in my father’s eyes returned and the joy returned, stronger than before. Now he lives with an eternal hope I’ve never seen before.

When he’s not out sharing the Gospel, he’s home, living the gospel, loving momma and being the best Dad I could ever imagine.

In the process, my Dad has taught me a few things. He taught me about integrity. He taught me that it’s important you like what you do and you do the best job at it.

He taught me that people will talk, and they’re going to talk all the time and you can’t let a few unhappy folk get in the way of doing what God calls you to do or what is best for the Kingdom of God.

He taught me that each person has something they are willing to live for and something they are willing to die for.

By following Jesus, Dad taught me that with God nothing is impossible: storms are stilled, a few pieces of fish can be turned into a meal, and that not even death can stop God.

Finally, my Dad taught me that when you fail, or when you turn your back on God, you always have another chance to get back up and to make things right because God is always there ready to forgive and to heal.

I am proud of my Dad. Since meeting Jesus he has gone from a man whose worries weighed so heavy on his mind to a man with purpose and with passion.

By being the best man he can possibly be, my Dad has taught me how to be the best man I can be.

Who is my hero? Simon Peter, or as Jesus called him, the Rock. But I call him my Dad.

I am thankful for God who made this big, beautiful world, for Jesus who called my Dad to let down his nets and to follow, and for the gifts of the Holy Spirit that gave my father and all people a voice to speak what is right and what is true.

Amen and amen.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Sermon for Pentecost Sunday; June 8, 2014

Rev. George N. Miller
Acts 2:1-21
“Flames of Faith”
June 8, 2014

It’s hard to believe that 20 years ago an unassuming show called Friends debuted on TV. You know: the comedy with the annoyingly catchy
theme song about six young adults who live in NYC. It’s perhaps harder to believe that 10 years ago Friends aired their last episode; and yet thanks to re-runs it has never been off the air.

In season four, episode 11 the story focused on Phoebe, the guitar playing, vegetarian, hippie chick who finds out her brother and his fiancĂ© have eloped. Phoebe’s so happy she asks if there’s anything she can give them as a present.

“Actually there is,” they say, “We want to have a baby, but we can’t conceive. We need someone to be the surrogate but don’t want it to be a stranger, so we were hoping we could ask you.”

Phoebe’s taken aback, then wittily replies “That’s a really nice gift, but I was thinking more like a gravy boat.”

Later, Phoebe stops by her friend’s apartment. She tells them the news and the choice she’s been asked to make.

Phoebe’s friends immediately console her, ask if she is sure she wants to do this, and are quick to point out the reasons why she shouldn’t do this.

But Phoebe sees the world differently than most. She states “They want me to think about it, but what is there to think about? I’m going to give them the greatest gift you can ever give.”

Phoebe asks her Mom for her opinion. “I don’t think this is a good idea” she says.

To give Phoebe a sense of how hard it would be to give up a child she has carried for nine months, she gives Phoebe a puppy, and says “This is yours for three days, but then you…have to give it back, and as painful that is going to be, giving up a baby is a million times worse.”

Phoebe accepts the challenge, immediately falling in love with the dog. She plays with it, walks it, sings to it and takes it everywhere, but refuses to give it a name so she won’t get attached.

3 days pass. Phoebe is with her friends waiting for her mom to come take the puppy away. “I can’t do this,” she says.” “I can’t give him up. My mom is right…”

At that moment her brother and sister-in-law stop by and upon seeing the puppy they being gushing: “He’s so cute”, and “You’re so precious I could just take you home” they say, snuggling and kissing the puppy.

In a moment of realization, Phoebe sits up and with a great sense of peace says “Hey, why don’t you? Why don’t you take the puppy?” The two are ecstatic.

Phoebe looks at her friends, “You know what, I’m going to do it. Look how happy they are.”

“Are you sure?” they ask.

“Yes. Look, I know it will hurt a million times more, but it will also feel a million times better.”

She tells her brother and his wife that she’ll be their surrogate; they are filled with joy and her friends, stand and surround her, touched by her unselfishness.

“I know I will not regret this” she says.

Though Friends is a sitcom meant to pass the time, this episode shares a truth: that joy, when shared, is often multiplied and not diminished.

Just as today’s scripture teaches us that when the Holy Spirit is shared it too is multiplied, able to fall upon all, and never to run out.

Today is Pentecost Sunday when we celebrate the birthday of the Christian church. It is the day the Holy Spirit broke into our existence like a rushing wind and wild flames.

The Holy Spirit is the mysterious, dangerous, wild side of God. The Spirit of God has the ability to inspire change as well as to inspire us to reclaim forgotten traditions. The Holy Spirit has a way to break down and build up, to bring together and to tear apart.

The Holy Spirit moves us to shout with joy and it can move us to be quite like a meadow breeze.

It’s not so easy to describe the Holy Spirit, but one thing is certain: no matter how much of the Holy Spirit is poured out, there is always more than enough to go around.

The Holy Spirit is limitless, timeless and goes beyond space, logic and accepted norms.

And we should want it no other way.

The Holy Spirit is truly the notion of God’s Kingdom having “enough” for everyone, flying in the face of the fear-based, survival-themed culture that is often thrust upon us by leaders who wish to control us.

So often we go through life learning that what’s ours is ours, we are to keep what’s ours by our side, and we are to be very careful who we share it with.

In today’s age most of us would not allow another to drive or borrow our car. We hesitate about someone wearing our clothes. We hold onto and hoard our money and our food.

The reasons are simple. Someone can wreck your car, someone can stain your clothes and simple mathematics state that when you share your money and share your food, there is less for you.

Simple logic. For example, I have four quarters. If Ginger asks for one, I now only have three. If Jack asks for one, I now only have two. If Sam asks for one I now only have one. And if Elaine asks for one I have none. A lot of good that’ll do me come laundry day.

But that’s not how the Holy Spirit works. Unlike those things that are man-made, the Holy Spirit is an energy supply source that will never run out.

In fact, we can say that the Holy Spirit is a resource that grows and grows the less it is stored and the more it is shared.

The Holy Spirit of God is an amazing resource that actually multiplies the more it is divided.

The Holy Spirit is limitless and always available. Because of this, fire becomes the perfect way to describe the experience of receiving and sharing the Holy Spirit.

Unlike quarters, flames that are shared do not decrease. Think about it.

You can take a simple, solitary match, strike it and use that flame to light a candle. You can then take that candle to light another candle, and that flame does not diminish.

Then take that second candle to light a third, and still the flame does not lessen.

You can then take that candle to light seven more candles, twelve more candles, forty candles and still none of their flames will diminish.

In fact, if you’re not careful, you will have an amazing bonfire going.

Each candle contains the fire, each candle shares the fire, yet no candle loses the fire in the sharing.

And that’s how the Holy Spirit is, a powerful movement of God that brings and keeps life in the community, capable of moving from person to person like fire, enabling the Word of God to be preached, the Word of God to be heard and the work of the Lord’s Kingdom to be carried out.

And notice that the Holy Spirit does not discriminate. It falls upon all: the old and the young, the male and the female.

Unlike food or money, cars or clothes, this gift from God does not diminish or run out; it does not become wrecked or stained with wear and tear.

Unlike many things we have, the more the Spirit is shared, the more it is increased, and the more it is increased, the more people will want to share it.

Just as Phoebe’s decision helps to bless and increase her family, the sharing of the Holy Spirit blesses our families, our community, our congregation and our denomination

Just as Phoebe realizes that giving away what she has will bring more joy into her life, we will never regret the sharing of the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, let’s embrace this outpouring of God’s love for us, realizing it is meant to be shared, and in the sharing it will never be diminished, but instead it will be multiplied and increased.

Think of just what’s possible when we believe; think of all the things the Holy Spirit is waiting for us to achieve.

Amen and amen.