Today is traditionally known as Pentecost, from a Greek word meaning fifty, originally a harvest celebration in Israel which came fifty days after Passover and signified the joy of the harvest season. Christians adopted the celebration following the events in Acts 2 which signified God’s Spirit giving life to the beginning of his Church.
Lectionary readings today are: Ezekiel 37:1-14; Romans 8:22-27; Psalm 104:24-34, 35b; Acts 2:1-21; John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15.
I have inserted two of them here.
The Valley of Dry Bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14 NLT)
The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone.I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.
God’s Spirit as an advocate (Romans 8:22-27 NLT)
For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)
And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.
I’m not much of a monarchist so please don’t tell anybody but I casually watched the Harry and Meghan royal wedding. My first royal wedding ever. It was somewhat incidental because I was trying not to look but my wife had it on in the background and, well… it kept drawing me. The cars, carriages, horses, people. The music.
The sermon by the American Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Rev. Michael Curry was not the usual straight-laced offering but rather something unusually alive. He quoted Martin Luther King at one point, “Dr. King was right: ‘We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world. Love is the only way.’”
In a loveless culture of pollution, threats, lies, infidelity, shootings, racism, and Trump politics the wedding was a wholesome, even worshipful break from reality.
When you stop to think of it, doesn’t the world often seem like Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones (from the above reading)? What a wonderfully descriptive metaphor of life that is no longer alive! What we describe as life can sometimes feel dismembered and dusty dry.
God’s Spirit is that invisible ‘something’ that speaks to our inside core. It is like the wind, invisible but real, that gently pulls us toward the love and fulness of God.
Can a culture of ‘dry bones’ be brought to life? How?
Am I in a dry valley? How can I come to life?
Pause and listen: is there a gentle, inner ‘voice’ drawing me to God and his love?
So I wait and listen; what is God’s Spirit drawing me to right now?
God of grace, presence and peace, come to me and forgive my sinfulness. Guard and hold me; walk with me and teach me. Holy Spirit fill me and guide my thoughts and purposes. I’m open before you.