Pentecost

The Reports of Our Death

The phone rang shortly after 7 a.m. Would the pastor be available to do a funeral for Mrs. G? Her family wanted to know, since she was dying, and they were beginning to make funeral arrangements.

It was the third hour of the day, just nine o'clock in the morning,
when the Pentecost experience blew through the crowd inspiring
understanding and opening possibilities despite the human tendency to
derision.

This week I heard a fairly depressing report about church membership
and staffing patterns, and I'm serving a church that may not even be
able to swing a half-time pastor after I go. But Thursday night I
joined that church's Search Committee in the Sanctuary to hear the
personal statements they have written to share at worship tomorrow, a
service they will lead themselves.

And I would like to say, the reports of our death have been greatly
exaggerated!  Those five people preached tomorrow's texts, my friends,
preached them with laughter and tears and with goose-bump-raising
clarity.

They set the bar pretty high for us trained preachers. Which reminds me that Peter had no training, did he? Sometimes the Holy Spirit will supply what we don't believe we have, just when we need it most.

When the pastor called the nursing home to follow up on Mrs. G, the pastor discovered the reports of her death had been greatly exaggerated, at least for that morning. I've been at a bedside with family members who thought death must be imminent. I've stood next to the bed of a beloved church member, 94, hallucinating his departed love and sure she had come to guide him to heaven. I've seen these people get up and go home, not to Jesus, but to Cottage Street or County Road.

Could the disciples gathered that day have possibly imagined that nearly 2000 years later, we would be celebrating their experience as the birthday of our Church?

I believe the reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated. But I also believe the reanimated bones will move differently. I'm a little worried by that; I'm not alone in wondering how we will live into new ways of being faithful.

We don't know what will happen next. I think the only thing we can know
is that things have changed, that they have changed before, but despite
lack of money, despite persecution, despite war and disease both mental
and physical, even despite disgust with the way some Christians wield the name, some of us still believe in the truth (if not the facts)
of these stories of Jesus and his followers, those guys who appeared to
be drunk first thing in the morning, so full of the Spirit they could
not help but speak.

11 thoughts on “The Reports of Our Death”

  1. Excellent! My friend Preacher Bob says that “live into” translates for him as “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

  2. I love this part: “I believe the reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated. But I also believe the reanimated bones will move differently. I’m a little worried by that; I’m not alone in wondering how we will live into new ways of being faithful.” We just have to keep ourselves open to NEW movement.

  3. It is exciting that these folks have created something so inspiring! I could use some of that myself….and the church, probably won’t die but most likely will look very different a generation from now….and somehow I think it just might be inspired (and inspiring), too.

  4. Ditto to what Deb said–that quote is amazing. And you’ve just given me a whole new sermon direction!!
    Thanks!

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