A Pastoral Message for Pentecost

Dear Friends,

“In the Lord I take refuge; how can you say to me, ‘Flee like a bird to the mountains, for look, the wicked bend the bow, they have fitted their arrow to the string, to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart. If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?’” Psalm 11:1-3

I write this letter to you during a somber mood. Our last Sunday morning worship reflected on those who have fallen in battle remembered on Memorial Day, but also the heaviness of the deaths of 19 children and 2 teachers in Texas. The shootings in vulnerable (or should I say trust filled) places have begun to increase once again: a primarily African American supermarket in Buffalo, a Korean Church in California, and today I saw that 10 people have been shot in Charleston overnight. We’ve come to the last breadth of a pandemic only to face the evil that was there before only multiplied and seemingly accelerating. Add the destruction of Ukraine and the cultural political battles of our own country, and the outlook seems bleak. The psalmist almost speaks for us today saying “the wicked bend the bow, they have fitted their arrow to the string, to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart.” This lament is our lament as we ask the eternal question, “Why?”

It was during evil like this that every Christian is challenged to answer, “Is there really any Good News?”. It seemed like an impossible task last Sunday. But with God, all things are possible. One of the primary tasks of worship for every believer gathered is to remember what good the Lord has done and in this remember that the Lord has much left to do through us. In remembrance of the evil perpetrated against the Son of God by all humankind, we also remember the miraculous resurrection of Jesus’ body; we remember him walking and talking and eating and teaching. Then Jesus ascended to the heavens promising a Comforter, the Holy Spirit, who would come upon the disciples and empower them to not just face the evil and be willing to die confronting the powers of the world but also “to proclaim Good News to the poor, freedom for prisoners, the recovery of sight to the blind, and to set the oppressed free!” Those who follow Jesus would receive a filling of God’s power from on high. The boldness of God would empower them to stare into the face of the world’s evil and to declare “Victory” over death, the grave, and the claim the Adversary has had since Adam and Eve fell in the garden. It is in this present darkness that the church, covered in the blood, of Jesus truly shines. Yes, those weighted down by evil can even today be released from spiritual sin and captivity. The world can and will change.

This Pentecost Sunday we celebrate the moment in the early church when tongues of fire alighted the heads of the disciples and inspired them to speak to the masses. These who believed what Jesus taught and put love in action into a world that was just as evil, full of disease, suffering, and warfare as today. These persecuted ones by long suffering show us today how to persevere in the day of darkness. They remembered: Jesus is still enthroned, the Holy Spirit is still available to those who seek, and we have agency to confront what evils we see in our own community. By the power of God, deliverance is possible. This Sunday, let us remember how God delivered the Israelites from bondage. Let us celebrate our baptism and new birth, and proclaim victory against the Devil. Let us live into righteousness by not accepting the world as it is nor resigning to its evil. Part of victory is living life with courage; another is advocacy. Let us awaken, rise from the dead, and let the ways of Christ shine.

“The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven. His eyes behold; his gaze examines humankind. The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, and his soul hates the lover of violence. On the wicked he will rain coals of fire and sulfur; a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.” Psalm 11:4-7

Blessings and Peace, Pastor Dan

Read the full North Charleston UMC newsletter here: https://mcusercontent.com/712c6e9464cf06024179e92ea/files/3e3fb332-16a3-a03c-7a04-d9f8f1360757/June_and_July_2022.01.pdf?fs=e&s=cl

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