What Should We Do?

Dean Phelps, Transitional Regional Minister

Rev. Dean Phelps, Transitional Regional Minister, considers Pentecost at a time when the church is called to confession.

We have just celebrated Pentecost, remembering the day the Holy Spirit appeared in a mighty way. We recall the disciples speaking as the Spirit gave them ability, so that all who were in Jerusalem heard in their own language. The message of God’s deeds of power was not just proclaimed. It was heard. It was received. It was understood. Not only was the message understood, it stirred those who received it to ask, “What should we do?”

Pentecost in 2020 arrived amidst the sound of weeping and lament. The rushing wind of the Spirit swept into a chorus of voices crying, “How long, oh Lord?” That same Spirit that blew into the disciples so long ago endures today and can be heard in the voices of weeping and lament.

It seems that just the other day we were talking about hand sanitizer, face masks, and congregational singing. We wanted to lift our voices together. We looked forward to sitting down to the sacred meal together once again. We longed to gather as communities of faith, yet we remained committed to the health and safety of our brothers, sisters, and neighbors.

Recent events in Louisville, Minneapolis, and other places call us again to be concerned for the health and safety of our sisters, brothers, and neighbors. Despite the strides we have made to advance justice and civil rights, violence against people of color and systemic injustice persistently plagues our country.

I pray that we will commit to building trust, to living as the communities of faith that we are called to be. This will require a willingness to engage in courageous conversations. These will not be easy, but they are necessary. Equipped by the Holy Spirit, we can move boldly into uncomfortable conversations about the history of racism. We can weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn.

We celebrate Pentecost as the birthday of the church. Pentecost formed us—Christians throughout history and around the world—into a community of believers, witnesses to God’s love, grace, justice, and mercy. The gifts given that day continue to equip us to live as that blessed community.

On Pentecost, we were given the gift to speak as the Spirit gives us ability. We received the gift to hear and to understand in our own language. Especially in challenging times, when faithfulness calls for courage, we must speak as the Spirit gives us ability, with love, joy, patience, generosity, and self-control. There is no law against such things.

On Pentecost, we also received the gift to hear and to understand, knowing that sometimes the word we hear will cut us to the heart. May we have the courage to ask, “What shall we do?”

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