The Last Sunday in Easter, Pentecost

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CALL TO WORSHIP: It is about living, it is about walking with God. It is about living, it is about walking with our neighbor. It is about living.

First reading  Numbers 11:24-30
Psalm   Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
Second reading    Acts 2:1-21
Gospel  John 7:37-39

Scripture of the day:  John 7:37-39

Music: A short concert-

Holy Spirit Come and Fill this Place

Surely the Presence of the Lord

Make Me A Servant

MEDITATION:  It is about life!

My personal deadline is about to come and go. Each week I have chosen to publish a meditation on either Wednesday or Thursday of the week. It is a moment to look back on the texts for the week and reflect on the realities around me. This has been one of the more difficult times as the week is Pentecost. It is the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit. Yet, everywhere I look there has been and still is so much discord.

One one hand the promise is gracious and hopeful, on the other hand “someone still has to pay the bills.” There does not seem to be a cornucopia of blessings evenly distributed to bring peace and satisfaction to this hurting world of ours.

The text for the day took an interesting turn;  (John 7:37-39) From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.

…and yet, someone has to pay the bills! This mantra of reality kept popping up in almost every conversation. For a moment imagine a diatribe of about 10 billion words now fitting into this sentence. Someone has to pay the bills. However this text talks about life on a different plain. It suggests a peaceful bountiful life beyond the excursions of reality. It focuses on a different reality.

In many ways I needed to be hit with the proverbial 2 x 4 on the side of the head. It was like the old record player that would have a scratch on the record and the song would stay in one spot “hiccuping” out what became noise instead of music. Someone has to pay the bills! So many conversations in the last months have dealt with illness and hospital care, mortgages and homeless people, cost of living and gluttonous  ambitions, street violence and justifiable war, kidnappings and prisoners, the list goes on.

The text shares with us a promise so huge that tomes have been written about it. Church families have been shredded over the issue of what it means to be a follower of Jesus, to experience the peace of Jesus. Whole denominations have split, new religions have been created, all over this simple concept, “rivers of living waters.

Somehow basic realities of surviving and ethics has often escaped this “rivers of living waters.” An experience so rich in the presence of the Holy Spirit who wouldn’t want this for themselves and everyone else.

Then in the midst of all this ruckus of the mind the 2 x 4 whacked me! A friend who has been traveling stopped by a church he used to be the pastor of. I now borrow his words from a post he put in Facebook. Listen to the flow, listen to the spirit, hear his surprise, watch as the river refreshens his soul.

Last evening I drove the hour through the heavy Los Angeles traffic from my office in Westminster, CA, to visit my old haunts at Los Angeles First Church of the Nazarene. I arrived at what I thought was a late 8:00 p.m., only to find the parking lot filled with cars and the church full of activity.I walked by the Wiley Chapel where beautiful lyrical voices were singing praise in the Korean language. I then stepped into the large sanctuary where a Spanish-speaking lady was exhorting the congregation of about 50 Hispanics who later assembled in a circle in a prayer meeting. I was recognized by one of the members who came over and greeting me with great warmth, and encouraged me to visit the “Crusader” Room, filled with Hispanics being led by Pastor Fajardo in an intense Bible Study. By 9:30, I slipped out, and walked down the long hall past gathered groups of young people, towards the parking lot, when I encountered loud music and noise from the far room.I opened the door and, much to my surprise, the place was packed with Filipinos, perhaps 80 of them, in full celebration of party time—karaoke, birthday celebration, food and cake, exquisite delight. I was immediately embraced and dragged into photograph after photograph with beautiful young adults, and greeting warmly by Pastor Manny, and then fed. One pastor lady, Carmelita, introduced herself, says she and her family are returning to Manila where she hopes to me my student in the PhD program there. How those Filipinos express unbounded joy!I’ve heard so many rumors about the demise of this church. But friends, last night gave me a picture of vibrant life in church community! I left at 10:00 with the church still jubilant!

Now, what was I saying? Maybe it doesn’t matter. Here Jesus tells us the Spirit comes not concerning the things that create havoc in life but comes to bring life in the middle of living, almost to say I will be sending my Spirit and you will be refreshed, it is all about life!

BENEDICTION HYMN:  Create within Me A Clean Heart

 

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