Breath for All
There are plagues in the air that are making it difficult to breathe and threatening to our lives. One of them is new (or "novel") and biological. We've named it Coronavirus. The other has been with us this whole time. We call it racism and white supremacy. Both of these plagues have the potential to divide us, to bring out the worst in us, to kill us.
"I can't breathe." Those words, spoken most recently by George Floyd-his last words-horrify me. The deadliness of our collective and sinful injustice and inequality has been laid bare. The disproportionate death and suffering visited on the poor, the elderly, and people of color are on full and unavoidable display. These plagues-biological and societal- are lethal to our bodies, our minds, our spirits, and our nation. But they don't have to be. There is another way.
This Sunday, we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, the Holy Comforter. John tells us that Jesus appears to the disciples late on that first Easter and does this: "He breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." (John 20:22)
How can we celebrate breathing in the Spirit of the Risen Christ while others are not able to breathe at all? How can we pretend to be about the work of forgiving sins and being reconciled if we fail to look honestly at what is constricting the ability for all people to breathe freely? We must acknowledge the sin of racism, greed, and injustice before it can be forgiven. Until we do, it will be retained in all of its continuing violence and lethality. This is, of course, frightening and overwhelming. It is threatening and uncomfortable. And it is necessary both as Americans and as Christians.
All the better for us to hear Jesus' command: "Receive the Holy Spirit." This is the breath of God that breathed life into us at the beginning, that breathed resurrection life into Jesus, and continues to be offered to us and our world today.
Come Holy Spirit. Breathe new life into us and send us out to do this work of reconciliation so that everyone is free to breathe the sweet air of liberty and justice.
This prayer from today's email from Sojourners may be helpful in the work facing us in the days ahead:
As we face together this unprecedented season, let love fill all our hearts, so that the greatness of our nation continues to break open before us. Draw every American, we pray O Lord, into the values of courage, duty, honorable action, self-sacrifice, generosity, neighborliness, responsibility, and mercy, which are the hallmarks of our country. Give us courage, O Lord. Hear our prayer.
A Heads Up about This Sunday, The Feast of Pentecost
You might want to get up and dressed and "tuned in" for our on-line service at 8:00 am this Sunday. We'll be using a slightly different liturgy, but it will still be available only on Facebook Live: www.facebook.com/staugmet
Spirit-led people have to be ready at a moment's notice to respond to the opportunities God gives us to love, witness, and serve I understand it's tempting to show up at your convenience and however you're dressed. However, this particular Sunday would be a good time to dress and show up at 8:00 am. Wear red if you have it! Or white-a symbol of your Baptism, that why Pentecost is also known as Whitsunday (White Sunday) because we will be renewing our Baptismal promises.
Since it's the Feast of Pentecost -- the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church -- please send a photo of you and/or your family dressed in your Spirit-inspired best. Maybe it's a fire-engine red hat. Or those red pants your spouse only allows you to wear on Pentecost. Maybe it's something that makes you think of birthdays.
As we are also celebrating the gift of the Holy Spirit, we'd also love pictures of doves! The link below gives some instructions on how to fold an origami "peace dove." If you like to fold crosses on Palm Sunday, you'll enjoy this too. Make as many as you like.
Send your photo or photos to Kate Smith to be included in our Pentecost service (May 31, 2020). Or, you can attach them here using the form you can find at: www.staugustinesmet.com/Pentecost
St. Augustine's would like to celebrate our parishioners that are moving up to the next chapter of their lives. If you have a student moving from PreK to Kindergarten, Elementary to Middle, Middle to High, or a High School, College, or Trade School Graduate, please send us their picture using the form found at the link below, or email to Kate Smith.
Be sure to include a short note about their accomplishment. If you have a "moving up" that is not included here, please go ahead and send it. We want to celebrate and wish our congratulations and Blessings on all the paths forward. Please make sure to get it to Kate before June 3rd.
Dial In Access for May 31st, 2020
If you or someone you know will not be able to access Facebook on Sunday, you can still "dial in" and listen to the service. Simply dial 1-888-958-7272 and then enter this access code (good only for May 31): 100479815