Toward Sunday

NYC 12-08-27

John Wesley is known to have said we are to “Preach the faith until you have it and then by having it you will preach faith.” We continue our worship series, Yes to the Mess: Surprising Lessons from Jazz & Acts, this Sunday with emphasis on the double vision that is required to develop new visions while simultaneously understanding that the complete story underneath those visions does not yet fully exist.  

This week’s worship will be rooted in  Acts 2.1-21, the story of Pentecost.  The reception of God’s Spirit enables the community to witness to their faith in the Resurrected Jesus. 

Pentecost Sunday represents an ending as well as a beginning: the end of the “Great Fifty Days” of the Easter Season (Pentecost means “the 50th day” in Greek) and the beginning of the commemorations of the early church. 

For the early church, Pentecost was the second most important part of the Christian year after Pascha or Easter. Originally, it commemorated both the Ascension of Jesus and the descending of the Holy Spirit, but became two distinct celebrations by the end of the fourth century. (As Christianity became legal, there was no reason not to have as many celebrations as possible.) Pentecost also became a favorite time to focus on the work of the Holy Spirit within the church and within our lives. (taken, in part, from Marcia McPhee at umc.org)

“The Pentecost experience of God’s Spirit is repeated in Acts; its images are routinely recalled to interpret subsequent outpourings of God’s Spirit as the constant testimony to God’s continuing faithfulness….Luke’s narrative of this wondrous action symbolizes the powerful and effective nature of God’s ongoing presence among those who follow after God’s Messiah.”  (New Interpreter’s Bible Volume X, 57).  

Think of a time when you have been unexpectedly called upon to lead a group.  What method(s) did you employ in the moment?   

In Yes to the Mess, Frank J Barrett writes, “When it comes to leadership, we too often confuse authority with influence.  We assume that what’s important is to get enough authority so that you can have influence.  Yes to the Mess proposes an alternative way of thinking about leadership activities:  seeing them as relational moves within an unfolding context.  In this model, leadership effectiveness is judged not by authority or how far up the pyramid people sit, but by how well they work with the resources at their disposal, no matter now limited, and how effectively they help free their own potential and that of others…..Provocative leaders develop double vision.  They create new narratives while simultaneously understanding that those narratives don’t yet fully exist.  They invite people to live in hopeful stories.  These invitations are not just exercises of the imagination.  They demand that people become deeply involved. (p 137-151)

How might you find the freedom you need to unleash your own potential and desire to share the story of your faith this week?  Consider the stumbling blocks.  Consider the parts that might be fun and exciting.  What might inspire you to take the next step necessary for you to become a witness this week?

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