Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The tempest of the Spirit invites us to the feast of communication

This morning Dr B preached and rather good it was too. He developed the theme of Pentecost as an ecumenical feast of communication.

God's Spirit breaks down the barriers between nations, the barriers of culture, and the barriers of language. Being drawn together, being one, does not mean being identical. It means transcending the barriers that separate us, holding together our diversity in the power of the "breath of God's voice". This is a pronounced and profound experience of communication.
The service also included an absolutely inspired and spirited reading of Acts 2 by our colleague Segma Asfaw from Ethiopia who read in English, French and Amharic. It was deeply moving.

The idea for Stephen preaching had only come about over supper last week as I said there was still no preacher for Pentecost week. "I'll do it" he said. He was lively, convincing and good. He also uses his hands in a very French sort of way these days.
God's Ruach is not something supernatural or immaterial but is "a tempest, a storm, a force in body and soul, humanity and nature". Ruach, says Moltmann, is the "breath of God's voice". (1) So, Pentecost is about communication of all the senses. It is this breath of God's voice that enables God's deeds of power to be heard by each in their own language. Pentecost is the great feast of communication.
You will note that Dr B's sermons have something that mine do not, namely footnotes. I've always accused him of being the real theologian in the household. I'm just the pastor. Anyway it was good for me to listen to him being passionate about faith and a biblical text. I realised that I hadn't heard him preach for about 27 years - Emmanuel URC Cambridge was the last time I think, scene of us meeting over coffee. Meanwhile he's had to sit through countless sermons of mine in three languages. Last time he preached in Geneva I was travelling to Brazil.

Anyway here's a final taste from this morning, you can find the full text here and the liturgy here.
Communication is also to communicate, to share together in the Eucharist, the Lord's Supper, united in the oikoumene in space and in time, transcending the divisions of the world. Here we are called together by the love that unites that which has been divided. At this meal, even the inadequate disciples are accepted. This is the meal of the suffering Lord who is in solidarity with the oppressed, and the meal of the one who has risen, who sends us to renewed action (4). Yet it is also here, that our own divisions in the oikoumene become most apparent and most painful. Our communication together at the Lord's Supper is incomplete, is only a partial sign of the unity to which the breath of God's voice has called us.