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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Pentecost: Have we lost the plot?

Pastoral Letter from Cedric,the DentalMethodist


Pentecost 2014
Dear JohnWesleyProject.com Family,

As I prepare for Pentecost I have the following text in my mind:........“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”  By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.........but as I have spent time with this text I find myself wondering if we the church, or we as individuals, haven't lost the plot somewhere along the line. God's answer to sin was the call of Abraham, leading to a family, to a tribe, to a nation, to Jesus, to a Kingdom, to the church (people) upon whom the Spirit has been lavished...........but, going back to the call of Abraham, we are blessed in order to be a blessing to others.....rivers of living water will flow from within them.....
 but, this is what God's called people often looked like......and look like today
......more of this on Sunday.....

My last Pastoral letter was written at Easter and I spoke about the Season of Easter (The Great Fifty Days) which now comes to an end on the Day of Pentecost. Next week is Trinity Sunday which functions as the “opening bookend” for the Season after Pentecost. (The “closing bookend” is Christ the King Sunday on 23 November this year, the Sunday before Advent.) This Season accounts for roughly half of the entire liturgical year. Why do we devote so much time to this Season? Because discipleship to Jesus is far more than about preparing for discipleship, whether in terms of learning the basic practices (Advent and Lent) or celebrating and learning key doctrines (Christmas Season and Easter Season). This season is primarily about responding to His call to discipleship and living as His disciples in the world in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Next week is Trinity Sunday and, as I said above, the opening bookend of this season, and I want to spend some time in this pastoral letter looking at this central doctrine of the Christian church, The Trinity. The Christian teaching that God is One in Three and Three in One is not a maths, biology, or physics problem to be solved, but a mystery into which we are invited to live and move and have our being. Now, the next paragraph may sound like a load of gobbledeegook, so you can leave it out if you want to :-)


(Gobbledeegook begins)
As I said, the Christian teaching that God is One in Three and Three in One is not a maths, biology, or physics problem to be solved, but a mystery into which we are invited to live and move and have our being.That may sound like a cop-out to people who expect Christianity to offer the same kinds of answers one might expect from maths or biology or physics. But even physics, which has been the most empirical of the sciences, has been forced by the facts of our universe to embrace a certain degree of uncertainty at its core. Newton’s models described physics very well on the level of creatures our size. But when we move to the scales of the nano or the micro, Newtonian mechanics seems no longer to apply in the same way. Probabilities replace observable certainties, some of what was once understood to be impossible is now seen to be the only plausible explanation: for example, light can be a particle or a wave at the same time, all depending not on light, but on the observer. A change in orbit of an electron on one side of the universe can alter the orbit of an electron on the other. And the universe itself is understood to consist primarily of something called “dark energy,” (try googling that), a something we can barely explain and only infer as an explanation for why gravity has not stopped the universe from continuously accelerated expansion. Mystery abounds in what science now routinely considers plausible (enough gobbledeegook, which I have sourced mainly from the General Board of Discipleship, let's get back to the Trinity).
(Gobbledeegook ends)

As Christians, we claim the mystery we embrace about the Triune nature of God is not only plausible, but true. Further, we consider the doctrine of the Trinity to be a first order truth. That is, Trinity is not a conclusion we come to based on other truths. Instead, we embrace it as firmly as we embrace the Incarnation of God in Jesus Christ, or His resurrection and ascension, or, as we celebrated this week, the coming of the Holy Spirit with power. The doctrine of the Trinity is, for us, foundational to everything we know or may ever come to know about God, one another, and even the universe.

Starting the week after Trinity Sunday, the Revised Common Lectionary provides three distinctive pathways to follow and during the season of Pentecost 2014, we will spend time in each of these three pathways.The Old Testament readings trace the story of Abraham and Sarah and three generations of their descendents: Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. The Epistle readings carry us in depth into Romans. And the Gospel picks up in the middle of Jesus' earthly ministry and leads us to its end, beginning with the reminder for all of us in our discipleship and ministries that “A disciple is not above the teacher… it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher” (Matthew 10:24-25).

As always, it is my prayer that through the preaching and teaching from the pulpit of the JohnWesleyProject.com, we, preacher and congregation alike, will all grow in grace, love and holiness.


Much love, 
            Cedric

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