Pentecost derives its name from the Jewish festival celebrating the harvest and the giving of the law on Mount Sinai fifty days after Passover. Fifty days after Easter, we celebrate the Holy Spirit as God’s presence within and among us. We call it the ‘season of Pentecost’ but it’s also known as “ordinary time.”
In Acts 2, the Spirit arrives in rushing wind and flame, bringing God’s presence to all people. By all accounts, I daresay, that those early disciples of Jesus would never forget that first Pentecost. Definitely not “ordinary!”
It initiates the mission of the church to tell the good news of the gospel of Jesus.
In the gospel reading from Matthew chapters 9 & 10, we hear Jesus call the disciples by name and dispatches them on their mission to preach, teach, cast out demons and heal. These are signs that the good news of God’s presence among humankind is in the person of God’s Son, Jesus.
Jesus often spoke of the church’s mission with images drawn from daily life. In Matthew, the harvest is plentiful, he says, but laborers are needed for work in the fields of daily life. I think that we would agree as we look around the world these days, we know that there are few people willing to be agents of love and grace, hope and resurrection.
This is not easy work. When I was in college, I spent one summer working on the family farm of one of my friends in upstate New York. It was hard work. In fact, it was the hardest physical work I’ve ever done. There was endless tilling, planting, hoeing, weeding followed by harvesting, sorting, selling … and freezing & canning some for the family’s use throughout the long, cold snowy winters of upstate New York. We even tore down a barn in one location, moved it piece by piece with a tractor and trailer and rebuilt it on their property. Yet, for all of that, they told me that this was the ‘ordinary’ work of summer.
It’s the beginning of ‘ordinary time’ in the church year, yet I know that none of us, would call the times we are living through right now, “ordinary,” in any stretch of the imagination! Yet, Jesus reminds the disciples then and us, now - that there is still real work to be done in the world to proclaim this good news in word and actions. It will not be easy. The effects of the pandemic of COVID-19 and the ongoing effects of violence, racial hatred and discrimination, and the immediate and long-term effects of both will not ‘go away’ when the numbers of cases & deaths subside and when the protesters all return home.
But Jesus also reminds us that our labor in the field is not in vain, because of the commission of Christ to go out into the world to be the very presence and power of God almighty. When we enter the ‘mission field,’ (you know, where you ordinarily live!), we enter knowing that we come with the very same Spirit that empowered Jesus to perform all those signs that God’s kingdom ‘had come near.’
For in doing this work, the world will come to know that God is in charge and reigning over the chaos. For we are literally Christ’s disciples deployed, sent out into the world of ‘ordinary time’ - wherever we find ourselves, we are called to continue to be the healing, forgiving, and restoring and transforming power of love, care and grace in our world for the sake of God’s kingdom.
In Christ, Pr. Mary Konopka, Bridge Pastor