Pentecost Poem

Preached Pentecost Sunday, May 19, 2024

This is the story
   of the church’s birth-day
A day like no other,
   the Spirit on full display

It’s a wonderful tale,
   both frightening and good
It may, it just may,
   alight your soul, as it should 

It’s a tale that is playful
   so I hope you don’t mind,
I was thinking of
   preaching today in a rhyme

This Seussian sermon
is meant to be whimsical
An exercise in dancing to
   the beat of the metaphysical

A poet, a playwright,
   an artist, a painter,
The Spirit is certainly,
   quite the sustainer. 

God’s Advocate gives life,
   so don’t you dare fall asleep
Or your heart, your soul,
   may need some upkeep

That’s enough of an intro,
   it’s time to paint a picture
Let us now begin to
   dive deep in this scripture…

The Story of Pentecost
when the Spirit flies through
from the New Testament;
   Book of Acts, Chapter 2:

It began on a day
   of gathering and assembly
The apostles came together
   oh so quite intently

To celebrate the fiftieth day
   after the Passover meal 
When suddenly came
   a violent sound like a squeal

The wind filled the whole house
   where they were all sitting
Like fire, there appeared above them
   tongues that were splitting

And then, each and every one,
   all were filled with the Holy Spirit
Ruah, pneuma, A wind, a cough,
   a breath: Can you hear it?

That’s when they began to speak
   in languages not their own 
And they found this new ability:
   the Pentecostal capstone

Now in Jerusalem, there were
   Jews from each and every nation
And they all got to witness
   this spontaneous polyglot oration

They were astonished, amazed,
   startled, bewildered
To hear their own language
   come out so unfiltered

They asked: “Are not these
   who are speaking Galileans all?”
So how then do we hear,
   each of us, in our own native drawl.

In our own languages we hear them
    speak of God’s deeds and God’s power
Like the diverse languages and culture
    blessed by the Babel Tower

One and all were amazed
   and quite perplexed by the scene,
And more than a few asked themselves,
   “What does this mean?”

But others, jealous or lonely or cynical;
   perhaps afraid of the divine 
Sneered and derided and claimed
   “They are but filled with new wine!”

From the valley to the mountain
   from the chancel to the steeple
Hear, O hear, what
   the Spirit is telling God’s people.
Thanks be to God.

What is this day when
we wear red all about?
Especially for Presbyterians
  Who rarely, if ever, act out

We who are not known 
  for being overly spontaneous
Can learn a lesson or two 
From the more extemporaneous

There’s a cadence to today
A rhythm more like jazz
When we are called by God
To worship with a bit more pizzazz 

So, wake up from your dreamy
church-induced torpor
And let us cut loose
Maybe a bit out of order

Let’s praise God with
   joyful noise and sound
Let’s shake our shoes off
   Like Moses, on holy ground

Let’s let down our hair
   Let’s worry less of appearance
For today, can we not worry
   so much of dogmatic adherence?

And instead let us embrace
   As best, as much as we can
The enigmatic and confusing: 
   The Trinity’s third per-son

The wind on the waters,
   Of creation’s Holy Writ
The gift that Christ spoke of,
   God’s lasting Advocate

So, let’s take a day at least
  And maybe a few more
To ruminate on the Paraclete 
  An element of the Holy tri-corps.

This is quite fun,
   but what am I preaching?
To spend the day rhyming
   but not really beseeching

Well…you’ve heard me speak
   of the spirit for ages
A few years and still counting,
   I’ve preached pages and pages. 

Well, the Spirit, is the Spirit
   and the Spirit is quite a mystery
And some things we can’t explain, 
   No matter the sermon delivery.

So instead of sitting through
   more heavy theological jargon
Instead of making you sleepy
   I thought I’d make you a bargain

I’ll rhyme and speak in verse
   Like the books of our youth
But you must, you just must
   remember this divine truth:

God made creation
   And Jesus is the Word
But the Spirit flies around us
   Like the wind, (like a bat?) like a bird.

And what can we say
   about this Pentecostal moment
What I know intellectually
   maybe could fill a post-it

The Spirit is not a thing
   to be figured out and dissected, 
It’s not a math problem
   or a project to be perfected

The Spirit’s something to feel,
   to fall into, to love
And simply to watch 
   like the flight of a dove.

So, I take my cue 
   from Geisel comma Theodor
Whose Green Eggs and Ham, 
   Were never, not ever a bore.

For I suspect we, including myself
   may soon forget what I say
But the wind, the air, the fire
   I hope we hold onto this day 

I studied for years,
   I learned Hebrew and Greek
And believe me, I like words,
   So I was quite the linguistic geek

But all those years of study,
   My nose in books for hours
Should not, would not, could not
   take the place of the Spirit’s powers

To make us feel whole
   To make us feel seen
To let us know God’s warm presence
   Like a fire of gasoline

So, forget my words,
   don’t listen to this sermon
And instead take in the day
   Let the Spirit, your path determine

Watch the fire, breathe in the air,
   feel the breeze on your face,
Say hi to a neighbor, greet a friend,
   know God here, in this place.

For like the high of a runner
   Or a crew of eight’s swing
Knowing the Spirit of God
   Is a being present thing

I’ve got a few more verses,
   Maybe one or two stanza
I hope that you have enjoyed
   this Spirit-full extravaganza

For I’ll say what I’ll say,
   and I’ll preach what I preach
But nothing can compare
    with what the Spirit can teach

For I am just vessel,
   Beautiful, but quite broken
But the Spirit is amazing
  So let’s listen to what’s spoken

By the Spirit, not by me,
  For that’s the path to peace
And maybe if more would do that
   All violence and war might cease? 

Let us come together
   Let’s enjoy this day of sun
And let in the spirit
   For I’m telling you, that’s the one.

And I guess all that is left
    is to say a quick prayer
For the life the Spirit gives,
   the chaos, and life’s flare

So with your permission
   if it’s okay:
I’d like to offer thanks
   Here, let us pray

[from Together We Pray]

As the bird finds a home
   where her children can nest,
my heart finds in the Spirit
   a good place to rest.

The stars do a dance
   while the moon sings a hymn
 to praise our Triune God.
   Hallelujah, amen!