Day of Pentecost - Acts 2:1-21; John 20:19-23

One of the countless changes in plans this spring was the postponement of confirmation. Luke Helgager and Brendan Hillig were originally scheduled to affirm their baptisms this

weekend, but we will wait until we can all gather together to celebrate with them.

Still, both have completed their work, including a final assignment which would be daunting for many adults. Each of them wrote a personal statement of faith, with instructions to write what they really think and believe, not what they imagine parents or pastor wants them to say.

Brendan has graciously given me his blessing to quote part of his insightful paper:

I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, my Lord who is definitely not white, nor is he

Gods’ [sic] vending machine.

He was a first century Palestinian carpenter, who likely had a business and was definitely not poor, as he was the eldest child of a tradesmen [sic].

Unless something very odd happened, Jesus would have looked like a modern Palestinian. Europeans white washed Jesus to make him more like them.

In reality, they should have worked to be more like him....

Modern belief in the Gospel of Prosperity, where people who have the most must be the most Godly, is clearly not in line with pretty much everything Jesus ever said. So I believe that Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, did not look like me, nor does he engage in quid pro quo.

No wonder he ended up dead.

The unjust world that crucified Jesus has done it again this week to George Floyd.

George died after a police officer in Minnesota kept him under his knee, gasping and

begging for air for several minutes.

It was quicker and more efficient than nailing him to a cross, but the outcome was the same:

a dark skinned male suffocates on a public roadway after suffering extreme, sickening

violence applied by law enforcement.

Whatever George did, did it deserve the death penalty?

Every time I have been pulled over by cops and complied with what they said, I survived.

Every time I forged my dying father's signature on a check, I was allowed to keep breathing.

Every time I have been inebriated, I lived to tell about it.

Every time I have jogged on a sidewalk or worn a hoodie or offended a white woman or led Bible study in a church, I was not murdered.

Either I should have been slaughtered for all of those crimes—I am now admitting them all on video, so please notify the police and protect society from me—or I am the undeserving beneficiary of the racist evil that is white privilege.

Why are George Floyd and Eric Garner and Philando Castile and Tamir Rice and Michael

Brown and Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and Emmett Till and Rev. Clementa

Pinckney all dead while I survive?

Don't overthink this: the answer is black and white.

I serve in a very white church in a very divided country, both of which I love and appreciate, and both of which, like me, are toxic with the insidious sin of racism.

May God provoke those of us who are white, and therefore have disproportionate power, voice,and security in this unwell society, to talk less, listen more, work harder, and take

additional responsibility for just equality on earth as it is in heaven.

May God correct and forgive and remake us all.

May God follow through on the beautiful, unfinished promise of Pentecost.

In Luke's account of it, something sounding like the rush of a violent wind surges through the

scene, blowing down barriers including language and culture and age and sex and educational status.

In John's account of it, Jesus stands among his terrifed disciples and breathes on them,

presumably without a face mask, infecting them with the power to forgive, blowing down

barriers including fear and the regrettable patterns of the past.

Both agree that Pentecost happens after the crucifixion.

The dead God breathes new life on the world that killed him.

God doubles down on the garden of Eden: God blows the breath of life into the earth creature and it lives—a new being named human, a new humanity named Christ, a new society named church, a new future named the kingdom of God.

The world which suffocates certain people is overcome and saved by the suffocated God.

The world which deals in orderly division and death is united with a blast of new life.

Justice and forgiveness and companionship across social boundaries and barriers are swept into the world by the newly unleashed presence of God named the Holy Spirit.

Spirit literally means breath, wind, air – exactly what the world denied Jesus and George Floyd and so many others.

It is the power of life and voice, identity and vitality.

What the world diminishes, denies, and steals, God lavishes.

And this Spirit, as present and plentiful and powerful as air, is no longer contained to one body that can be captured, crucified, and locked away in a tomb.

God's presence is, in the words of hymn writer Brian Wren, no longer bound to distant years in Palestine, but saving, healing, here and now, and touching every place and time.

It is everywhere, all over the world, as indiscriminate as the virus that mimics it, the way evil

always mimics goodness.

The Holy Spirit is the uncontainable contagion of Easter.

The Holy Spirit is God gone viral.