Reflection on Pentecost, Year C
(click here for biblical texts)
Have you ever noticed on the first Pentecost people
were not only able to speak in tongues not their
own, but also the people inside the house and
outside could share—speak and be heard?
How does that happen? It surely is not happening
today in the United States where people, even when
they are in the same room, talk right past each other.
And instead of walls seeming to evaporate,
some leaders, so they call themselves, propose to build
new ones—and not just physical walls against immigrants,
Muslims, but cultural ones against transgender persons and gay
men and lesbian women, and put even more
young and old black men, and women too, behind bars
or behind the ultimate barrier called a casket,
not to mention denying health care for many
unable to pay—too bad, so sad, you’re on the wrong side
of the great health divide. Just don’t get sick, okay?
Somehow on that Pentecost morning walls
of the house where the followers
of Jesus were hanging out came down, or
if they did not fall physically they were transparent
or at least able to let sound mingle inside and out.
That surely was divine work but also it had to come
from the desire to reach into
the community of strangers,
to those who believed other truths—
they wanted to build community not tear it
apart and they knew it could only be done by reaching
across borders, taking the risk of talking with
unfamiliar people, accepting difference
as natural and God-given, indeed a gift
manifesting the richness and bounty of Creation.
Building community requires trust,
trust first in God, a power greater than oneself,
a power greater than one’s voice claiming to be
all that is necessary—vote for me and we’ll be great
again, whatever that means—knowing God
is the source of all our strength and goodness,
that no one human or even group of humans
provides all we need, no nation, no tribe,
no church, synagogue, mosque, party, business,
family is self-sufficient.
It takes all of us to make a fruitful life together.
When we deny our interconnectedness we slowly,
but surely die. The interdependent web of life is like a spider
web, truly, even the www.whatever, when one strand, one server,
one station, one town’s water system, is broken, the whole is no longer,
it is only a lesser version of what it was or could be.
So let us on this Pentecost be open and honest
with those who doubt, as others doubted that morning
long ago, but even more let us stand
against those claiming to have, and even to be, the only answers
we need, and especially we must stand foursquare opposed
to those whose answers involve tearing down others
in order to garner whatever spoils they think are theirs—
because they shout louder and bully more.
Most of all, let us lower our own walls,
proclaiming liberty to the captives—even bullies
are captured by a creed of greed and awful need—showing
all of us the better, more faithful, trusting way of life.
©Robin Gorsline 2016 lectionarypoetics.org
Please use the credit line above when publishing this poem in any form
About this poem . . .The message of Pentecost—everyone can be in conversation with each other, we can accept, even celebrate, our differences and learn from them, when we lower the barriers, when the walls come down—is so contrary to our public culture in the United States today. Can we have a new Pentecost? Can we actively engage across the lines in order to defuse tension and war, create peace? It must start in our own hearts and lives, of course, and then we can take it into the world. This will put us in active opposition with those who live off, and promote, fear, but even with them, our own walls need to be lowered.