I am not preaching a sermon today, but if I was…

If I was preaching a sermon today I would tell you a story about the breath of God, about tongues of fire, about visions and dreams, about not being afraid, about knowing that you are not alone. And this particular Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, I would be wearing red.

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From Google Images: http://wallpaperose.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Red-Converse-Shoes-1024x640.jpgOn the day I graduated from seminary with the degree that ostensibly qualifies me to preach, I was gifted with a pastor’s robe. It was hugely symbolic. Weeks later I exchanged it for one that was more subtle, more subdued, less obvious. This seems symbolic, too. I’ve never worn it. Never even taken it out of the garment bag in which it hangs. Never even thought about it.

Until today. I pulled-down-then-climbed the stairs to the attic, found it, brought it back down, and put it on – with my Converse All-Stars peeking out from underneath. I stood in front of the full-length mirror. I took a deep breath and felt the heat rise within me; a familiar and unrequited passion to speak; to say what I know and love, to proclaim all that I vision and dream; and yes, to preach. Not from a pulpit. Not in a robe. But ever telling the stories that encourage, embolden, and inspire. Stories like this one:

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On that day, many years ago, a group of Jesus’ disillusioned followers gathered. He was dead, then resurrected, then gone again. They remembered days gone by; beliefs and plans upon which they’d pinned their every hope. Truth-be-told, Jesus felt far, far away. They were alone, afraid, and unsure – shut up in a room together.

Suddenly a rush of a violent wind blew in and filled the house. Divided tongues of fire appeared, one resting on each of them. They began to speak in ways and words they did not know, did not understand, could not make sense of. A crowd began to gather at the spectacle – foreigners from regions far and near – who heard their own languages being spoken. The skeptics in the crowd sneered and said, “They’re just drunk.” But Peter proclaimed, “No. They are not drunk. It’s only 9:00 in the morning. They are fulfilling the words of the prophet Joel. ‘…God declares, 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…’” (Acts 2)

Days later, all of them undoubtedly remembered what Jesus himself had told them before he left, “I will send you an Advocate, a Comforter, the Holy Spirit… Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you…Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” (John 14)

And on this day, Pentecost Sunday, we wear red – to rekindle the flame, to remember that we are not alone, to prophesy, and yes, to preach.

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If I was preaching a sermon today I would tell you that God does not usually, if ever, show up when and where and how we want, or even how we hope. But God does show up – most often in amazing and miraculous and completely unexpected ways.

I would assure you with the words your soul longs to hear and believe: Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

I would make sure you knew that Pentecost wasn’t a one-time event. Wind still blows. Fire still burns and brands. Visions are still seen. Dreams are still dreamed. And preaching – saying what you must – inhaling and exhaling the very breath of God – still has the potential to change everything…and does.

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Today, Pentecost Sunday, I’m taking a deep, deep breath and going to church. It’s the first time in more than four years. This is amazing, miraculous, and completely unexpected. Someone else will be wearing the pastoral robe, someone else will be preaching, but I will have on red shoes.

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    { 8 comments… read them below or add one }

    Callahan McDonough May 19, 2013 at

    lovely Ronna and love the vision of you, robe+red shoes/sneakers. I gratefully, converse the Holy Spirit daily. Often knowing/asking, ‘I do not know the questions’ ‘nor the answers’ so you, decide, show me. In time the path unfolds. Most interested in your trek and experience this Pentecost Sunday.

    Reply

    Ronna Detrick May 19, 2013 at

    It was a good trek and experience, Callahan. Thanks for asking. I was powerfully aware of all the resistance I walked in with and how much of it melted away in those 90 minutes. Liturgy. Hauntingly beautiful music. Communion. Incense. Powerful ritual that impacted me deeply. I’ll undoubtedly return…

    Reply

    Renae c May 19, 2013 at

    Right here with you.

    Reply

    Ronna Detrick May 19, 2013 at

    Love that this is so, Renae. xoxo

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    Nicki May 19, 2013 at

    You took a step towards something today that I have been backing away from as of late. Even Pentecost and the wearing of red could not get me to head to a building to worship today. I pray you found some of what you look for on a daily basis.
    Nicki recently posted..National Bike Month

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    Ronna Detrick May 19, 2013 at

    I have backed away for years, Nicki. And even today felt tentative; very small steps. And, once inside and seated in the pew, so much of what I have been missing for so long rushed in…along with other things, to be sure. So, movement, to be sure and, as with most things, time will tell. I pray you found glimpses of what you need and long for as well; no matter outside the church!

    Reply

    Andrea Maurer May 20, 2013 at

    “Wind still blows. Fire still burns and brands. Visions are still seen. Dreams are still dreamed. And preaching – saying what you must – inhaling and exhaling the very breath of God – still has the potential to change everything…and does.” Indeed it does and aren’t we so very fortunate for it? I feel fortunate to have read this post today, friend. Thank you!
    Andrea Maurer recently posted..God’s Gift

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    Ronna Detrick May 20, 2013 at

    I’m fortunate that you continue to read my words and find meaning in them. xoxo

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