This week is the run-up to Pentecost, the week when we “prepare” for the coming of the Holy Spirit. I put “prepare” in quotation marks because of course the Holy Spirit just comes when She will, She is not something to be controlled by us. And yet, we do – we must – prepare for Her. We open ourselves to Her transforming power, as best we can, and we pray that She takes root within and among us.
So it was appropriate that this weekend seven of us from St. Luke’s went to a workshop on radical welcome and the emerging church. This was a challenging workshop for many, if not all, of us there. We were asked to look at our congregations and analyze the centers of power and exclusion. We were asked to name what we never name. We were asked to look at how our congregational practices exclude or disinvite certain people. We tried to talk honestly, one-on-one, about our fears of exclusion and about times we’ve been welcomed. And the next day we worshipped together, using the Cathedral space in a way it likely had never been used before.
Then we went home. Back to the way it’s always been, the way it must be. The scales did not suddenly fall from our eyes. We did not shout “hallelujah, I see the light!” I think we mostly went home exhausted. But we got a taste of another way. We got a first peek out from under the curtain that shrouds our vision. We got something to think about and to share over time.
We all want to be inviting. We want other people to come and share what we love. But radical welcome is about loving others enough to want them to come and bring something new, even at the risk of challenging or losing what we love. Radical welcome is about loving Jesus more than we love our ways of doing church. It’s about being willing to bear the burden of insecurity for the sake of community. It’s about seeking the kindom of God rather than the comfort of familiarity.
Jesus prays that we all may be one. It sounds good. But it’s hard. How much do you want it? Do you want to be one if it means you have to change? I do want it, but it scares me too. I don’t know what I’m not willing to give up until I’m actually at the point of loss. Then I have two choices: I can kick you in the shins, or I can pray. Help me, Jesus. Help me to love past the fear. I want to love that much, Jesus. Help. Send your Spirit to enlighten, encourage, and in-spire us. Amen.
Want to pray to the Holy Spirit this week? Here are some ways:
Chant “Veni, Sancte Spiritus” (Come, Holy Spirit) over and over.
Read Hymns 500-516 in the 1982 Hymnal, or 472, 473, 475, 478 in the LBW
Write your own poem prayer. What would you ask of the Holy Spirit?