God’s Reputation Depends on Us

The Second Commandment
You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God.
What does this mean?
We are to fear and love God, so that we do not curse, swear, practice magic, lie, or deceive using God’s name, but instead use that very name in every time of need to call on, pray to, praise, and give thanks to God.
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Christians are fodder for the media. News shows regularly invite Christian pastors to comment on current events. What I’ve found distressing is that the particular pastors who are invited to reflect on the latest dispute over bills and events say things about my God that are strange to me. I hear about a God who is judgmental without mercy, and who picks and chooses whom HE loves, based on a select few disqualifications. I hear about a God who has abandoned his earth to the greed of the mega-businesses. I hear about a God who chooses sides. Then I hear that Christians in this country are being persecuted because they have to allow freedom of religion to their fellow citizens. I hear about a God who stopped breathing in about 30 CE. The God I hear about is ancient history, not the God who walks with and loves all people. I hear about a God who condemns the “least of these.”
So, does that describe me? Do I forbid certain kinds of people to have the same religious freedoms and rights I have? Do I hate people who have problems or ideas different from mine? Do I think I’m better than anyone else because I worship Jesus? Do I avoid people who don’t meet my standards? Do I blame people for their own troubles instead of reaching out to them? Do I make other people feel bad about themselves because they don’t live like I do? (Honest answer: sometimes.)
That’s the funny thing about being a Christian. There are a hundred ways to live and proclaim your Christianity, but, honestly, the Christians with the biggest mouths make it awkward for me to claim in public that I am a Christian. Why? Because to some of my friends and acquaintances, that means I’m narrow-minded, mean-spirited, prejudiced and anti-everything. To them, I’m a damp blanket on good party.
So what can I call myself? I like to think I’m open-minded (my husband will tell you otherwise, but I try), that I am generous, and accepting, and curious. Is that being a Christian? Well. Was Jesus open-minded? Was Jesus generous? Was Jesus kind? Was Jesus accepting of everyone? Well, he was hard on the Pharisees, but he still talked with them and dined with them. Was Jesus anti-everything? Whom did he ostracize? The adulterous woman? The Samaritan woman? Judas? He could have kicked Judas out long before the Last Supper.
I bring this up, because I think when we use our Christianity to prove that we’re better than everyone else, we’re breaking the second commandment.
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When I research, I tend to use resources from the twentieth or twenty-first century. However, my favorite source for today was first published in 1792. Thomas Watson was a eighteenth century English non-conformist Puritan preacher and author. Eighteen of his books are still in publication today. I’ve been studying his writings on the Ten Commandments. At first, I skipped over him, because his writing is so old. However, his careful and thorough explanation of each commandment has given me a much greater understanding, which I am happy to share with you.
According to Thomas Watson, the Second Commandment has two parts: 1. A negative expressed, that we must not take God’s name in vain; that is, cast any reflections and dishonor on his name.2. An affirmative implied. That we should take care to reverence and honor his name.
Do you remember studying this commandment in your youth? The impression it left on me was that I was to not swear. So for a long time, I tried not to say, O my God! or even Gosh! because that was a form of God’s name. By the time I finished college, my swearing vocabulary was equal to my literary vocabulary. It has been a constant worry ever since. Of course, I was careful not to swear in front of my parents or my children. My children’s everyday language seems to have not been influenced by my concerns. And as a linguist and semanticist, I can theorize that words are just words. But, in fact, we know that words have meanings which have power.
Watson says that there is more to this commandment than swearing. It is about how we speak about and to God.
I want to share seven of Watson’s points.
—>When we speak slightly and irreverently of his name. —When we speak slightly of God or his works, he interprets it as a contempt, and taking his name in vain. That speaks to our automatic response of OMG or Oh, my God to just about any amazing event or statement. Can we ever break ourselves of that? What could you say instead? Or how about saying, “God damn!” when something goes wrong? Or do you ever say “Jesus!” when you are disgusted or impatient? I’m doing better at saying, “Rats!” when things go wrong. But I haven’t found a substitute for “Oh, my God.” Except for “Holy Crap!” which really isn’t an improvement.
—>When we profess God’s name, but do not live answerably to it, we take it in vain. When we let everybody know that we are church goers by our words, but not by our actions, we are abusing God. If I badmouth the neighbors, if I am rude to the clerks and cashiers, if I cheat on my taxes, if I lie about my actions….that’s not being honest about how I say I feel about God.
—>When we use God’s name in idle discourse. Here is a story told by a waitress to a new employee:
“Sundays are the worst,” one of the servers explained to me. “That’s when the church crowd goes out to eat.”
“What’s wrong with the church crowd?” I asked.
“Oh, honey,” she said. “They’re usually the most demanding, and they’re always the worst tippers. I guarantee you, if you see your table praying before the meal, you can mentally subtract a third from your tip.”
Standing nearby, the manager cracked a smile. “They already gave at church,” he said. “They don’t have any money left.”
Or my big pet peeve. How can one be anti-abortion and anti-child welfare and pro-death penalty all at the same time? Or try this one: How can people say “Jesus loves everybody” and then throw a fit when someone says “Black Lives Matter?”
—>When we worship him with our lips, but not with our hearts.
These is why I change our bulletin with the church seasons. I love the predictability of using the same liturgy out of the hymnal each week—it’s always there; it requires no effort on my part to get ready for the next service. But—it can become just a bunch of words repeated without thought. My purpose in our order of service is to make you think.
—>When we pray to him, but do not believe in him.
Do you ever pray just because you’re “supposed to?” I’m guilty of this. Sometimes my prayers are not backed up by more than wishful thinking. There have been a few times when I prayed at someone’s bedside for healing with despair in my heart. God showed me; the person was healed. That happened twice in the ER.
>When in any way we profane and abuse his word—-quoting scripture out of context. Perhaps this is how we most often abuse the Bible. We want to pick and choose verses without considering their literary historical and sociological context. For instance: Women shouldn’t speak in church.
In 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, Paul wrote: “As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church” (vv. 33-35). Oops! I’m in trouble!
Here’s the thing. Paul was writing to one congregation about one situation. Like many pastors, to avoid confronting one person directly, he lumped everyone into one anonymous basket. Some of Paul’s most valued congregational leaders were women.
—>That bring Scripture to countenance any sin. Spare the rod and spoil the child, for instance. How many times has that verse been used to justify beating a child? Not spanking; beating. Or “the poor will always be with you.” That verse has been used to justify ignoring the poor by implying that nothing can be done about poverty. In fact, the way I see it, the poor always being with us means we’ll always have plenty to do.
—>That adulterate the word, and wrest it in a wrong sense. Such are heretics, who put their own gloss upon Scripture, and make it speak that which the Holy Ghost never meant. As, for instance, when they expound those texts literally, which were meant figuratively.
Even Jesus spoke in parables and metaphors and similies. Perhaps we need to understand the difference between what is literal and what is true. John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
We know Jesus is not a plant; he is a human being. But we know that we are connected to him and that our faith flourishes because of our connection with him. Thinking about the close connection between the vine and the branches of a real plant helps us to understand how closely we are connected to Jesus and how important Jesus is to us.
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Why is the Second Commandment so important? In Romans 2:24, Paul warns the congregation that “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you.” It seems that when non-believers saw the followers of Jesus behaving badly, they associated their behavior with their God and their beliefs. If Christians behaved badly, what was the point in converting to Christianity?
That’s the feeling I get when I watch the celebrity Christians on the news shows. That’s why God is viewed by non-Christians as mean and hateful. That is why God’s followers, we Christians, are viewed by non-Christians as mean and hateful. So. God has a bad reputation.
What can we do about that?
Well…that means we have to be deliberate and intentional in our actions, in our words, in our relationships, not just on Sunday, not just when we sit in the privacy of our homes reading our Bibles. We have to consciously choose to act like Jesus is watching us every minute, even when we’re at work, when we’re camping, when we’re at a ball game, when we’re talking about the news—-we have to be constantly reminding ourselves that we really do want to be like Jesus. That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, can’t laugh, can’t relax. Jesus did all those things and so can you. But remember this: God’s reputation depends on what you do and say. God’s reputation is your responsibility. Amen.
Romans 2:17-24Contemporary English Version (CEV)
17 Some of you call yourselves Jews. You trust in the Law and take pride in God. 18 By reading the Scriptures you learn how God wants you to behave, and you discover what is right. 19 You are sure that you are a guide for the blind and a light for all who are in the dark. 20 And since there is knowledge and truth in God’s Law, you think you can instruct fools and teach young people.
21 But how can you teach others when you refuse to learn? You preach that it is wrong to steal. But do you steal? 22 You say people should be faithful in marriage. But are you faithful? You hate idols, yet you rob their temples. 23 You take pride in the Law, but you disobey the Law and bring shame to God. 24 It is just as the Scriptures tell us, “You have made foreigners say insulting things about God.”

Matthew 5:33-37Contemporary English Version (CEV)
33 You know that our ancestors were told, “Don’t use the Lord’s name to make a promise unless you are going to keep it.” 34 But I tell you not to swear by anything when you make a promise! Heaven is God’s throne, so don’t swear by heaven. 35 The earth is God’s footstool, so don’t swear by the earth. Jerusalem is the city of the great king, so don’t swear by it. 36 Don’t swear by your own head. You cannot make one hair white or black. 37 When you make a promise, say only “Yes” or “No.” Anything else comes from the devil.

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1 http://biblehub.com/library/watson/the_ten_commandments/2_3_the_third_commandment.htm
2 http://biblehub.com/library/watson/the_ten_commandments/2_3_the_third_commandment.htm
3 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/justin-lee/are-christians-christianitys-worst-enemies_b_2586339.html
4 http://biblehub.com/library/watson/the_ten_commandments/2_3_the_third_commandment.htm

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Other interesting articles:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/30/evangelicals-give-christianity-a-bad-name
http://www.changingthefaceofchristianity.com/negative-christian-stereotypes/
https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/08/the-evangelical-persecution-complex/375506/

Why Do We Need Rules?

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Matthew 5:17-20Contemporary English Version (CEV)
17 Don’t suppose that I came to do away with the Law and the Prophets. I did not come to do away with them, but to give them their full meaning. 18 Heaven and earth may disappear. But I promise you that not even a period or comma will ever disappear from the Law. Everything written in it must happen.
19 If you reject even the least important command in the Law and teach others to do the same, you will be the least important person in the kingdom of heaven. But if you obey and teach others its commands, you will have an important place in the kingdom. 20 You must obey God’s commands better than the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law obey them. If you don’t, I promise you that you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.
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Matthew 22:36-40Contemporary English Version (CEV)
36 “Teacher, what is the most important commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus answered:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. 38 This is the first and most important commandment. 39 The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.” 40 All the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets are based on these two commandments.
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Did you ever accuse your parents of not loving you? Was it because they had punished you? Was it because they made up ridiculous rules for you?
I remember one of my rules for my teenagers: “The speed limit is made for experienced drivers. You don’t have to go that fast.” Another driving rule was, “The driver chooses the radio station.” How about rules that made the household run more smoothly? Wash the dishes before you go out to play. Clean your room. Be home before 10:00. Some rules are made up after they are broken: do not play catch in the living room.
As children, we often think that laws restrict, that rules weigh us down and limit our freedom. Even as adults, we react to laws as if they were against us.
Somewhere in my files I have a copy of a magazine article that appeared in Atlantic Monthly in the seventies. The name of the article is “Law as a Means to Freedom.” I can’t remember the author’s name, but I do remember how influential that article has been in my life. The author explains that without laws, we would have no freedom. It was fun discussing this article with teenagers, who thought that every rule ever invented was made to restrict their freedom. Come to think of it, there are still people who think that laws are unfair. Some banks find regulations restrictive. Some employers find labor laws are harmful to their endeavors.
But let’s look at one examples: traffic laws.
What if there were no traffic laws? What if there was no law that demanded you drive on the right side of the road? What if there was no law saying you had to stop at a stop sign? If those two laws didn’t exist, how would you feel about getting in your car to drive to the grocery store, to drive to work, to drive to church? Would you be afraid to travel on the public roads? Would your freedom to pursue happiness or a living be restricted?
The introduction to the Ten Commandments uses the same argument.
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Ex. 20:2). Remember that the Hebrew people were slaves of the Egyptians and Moses, guided by God, led the people out of Egypt, in essence freeing them from oppressive servitude. However, once they were out of sight of Egypt, life was not necessarily better. They had left stable homes, houses, food and water supplies to wander from place to place, looking for the very things they had taken for granted. Yet they were free.
But freedom is a tricky idea. One person’s freedom is another person’s problem. You are free to buy fireworks in Iowa, but fireworks drive my dog nuts, so your freedom is making my life miserable.
The Hebrews were now free to do as they pleased…no overseers, no quotas, no hard labor. They were free to do…..what? When people have too much free time on their hands—and no resources—what happens? People lose their sense of purpose, they lose their sense of right and wrong. There is nothing on which to depend, except sunrise, sun, sunset. infinite horizons, glaring blue sky.
Tempers shorten. Patience is impossible. Complaints are as common as the grains of sand. This community is losing its commonality. Everyone is angry or disgusted or despairing. One angry person is hard to bear. Multiply that times 600,000. According to tradition, Moses was leading a group of 600,000 people. I cannot imagine what that looked like, but think of it like this. Ten Kinnick stadiums would hold 600,000 people. The next time you sit in Kinnick stadium, try to imagine living with ten times that many neighbors.
The freedom the Hebrews had longed for turned into oppression as they found themselves at the mercy of the land. They could have been the longest-running reality show on earth: Forty Years in the Desert. Would you tune in every week to see what was happening? Would you be on the edge of your seat as the show ended with the last drop of water being stolen from a goatskin bag by a desperate mother? Would you be shouting at Moses for leading the people into a desert?
Finally, in Chapter 20 of Exodus, God and Moses come up with a plan: rules.
It’s so simple. Even if all 600,000 people were trying their hardest to be decent people, that could still lead to lots of confusion of who should do what.
We think of the Commandments as restrictive, but think of them this way.
“Because the Lord is your God, you are free not to need any other gods. You are free to rest on the seventh day; free from the tyranny of lifeless idols; free from murder, stealing and covetousness as ways to establish yourself in the land.”
This freedom differs from what our cultures shows us. In our culture, we like to claim that we are free to do our own thing, to take into account only our individual wishes and consequences.
One of my sources says that the ten commandments have broader implications. In fact, she says that the ten commandments define who we are. They define us not only to our colleagues and family; they help us to define ourselves. The Ten Commandments prescribe how we are to manage our relationships. The first three commandments help us to maintain our relationship with God. The other seven focus on our relationships with all the people we meet, all the people we think about, all the people we hear about.
Because the Ten Commandments are part of the original Hebrew Scriptures, Jesus had studied them and referred to them in his teaching. His combining them into to two Great Commandments shows the purpose of the commandments:
Matthew 5:17-20Contemporary English Version (CEV)
17 Don’t suppose that I came to do away with the Law and the Prophets. I did not come to do away with them, but to give them their full meaning
His combining them into to two Great Commandments shows the purpose of the commandments:
Matthew 22:36-40Contemporary English Version (CEV)
36 “Teacher, what is the most important commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus answered:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. 38 This is the first and most important commandment. 39 The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.” 40 All the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets are based on these two commandments.
So, remember when your parents punished you? It was out of love for you, wasn’t it? Punishment exists because rules exist. Our parents gave us rules because they loved us and wanted to protect us. Our parents probably landed somewhere between Charles Dickens and Dr. Spock, when it came to figuring out what to do with us. But love was there.
That’s why God gave the Hebrews, that wondering cluster of chaos, rules. God loved them enough to teach them how to love each other. God loves us enough to teach us how to love each other.
So let’s embrace these Ten Commandments as a gift, a gift that frees us and a gift that frees us to be shining Children of God. Amen.

Inhale, Exhale

John 20:19-31Contemporary English Version (CEV)

19 The disciples were afraid of the Jewish leaders, and on the evening of that same Sunday they locked themselves in a room. Suddenly, Jesus appeared in the middle of the group. He greeted them 20 and showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they became very happy.

21 After Jesus had greeted them again, he said, “I am sending you, just as the Father has sent me.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they will be forgiven. But if you don’t forgive their sins, they will not be forgiven.”

24 Although Thomas the Twin was one of the twelve disciples, he wasn’t with the others when Jesus appeared to them. 25 So they told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But Thomas said, “First, I must see the nail scars in his hands and touch them with my finger. I must put my hand where the spear went into his side. I won’t believe unless I do this!”

26 A week later the disciples were together again. This time, Thomas was with them. Jesus came in while the doors were still locked and stood in the middle of the group. He greeted his disciples 27 and said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at my hands! Put your hand into my side. Stop doubting and have faith!”

28 Thomas replied, “You are my Lord and my God!”

29 Jesus said, “Thomas, do you have faith because you have seen me? The people who have faith in me without seeing me are the ones who are really blessed!”

30 Jesus worked many other miracles for his disciples, and not all of them are written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you will put your faith in Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God. If you have faith in him, you will have true life.
Contemporary English Version (CEV)

Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Acts 2:1-21Contemporary English Version (CEV)

2 On the day of Pentecost all the Lord’s followers were together in one place.
2 Suddenly there was a noise from heaven like the sound of a mighty wind! It filled the house where they were meeting.
3 Then they saw what looked like fiery tongues moving in all directions, and a tongue came and settled on each person there.
4 The Holy Spirit took control of everyone, and they began speaking whatever languages the Spirit let them speak.
5 Many religious Jews from every country in the world were living in Jerusalem. 6 And when they heard this noise, a crowd gathered. But they were surprised, because they were hearing everything in their own languages. 7 They were excited and amazed, and said:

Don’t all these who are speaking come from Galilee? 8 Then why do we hear them speaking our very own languages? 9 Some of us are from Parthia, Media, and Elam. Others are from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, 10 Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, parts of Libya near Cyrene, Rome, 11 Crete, and Arabia. Some of us were born Jews, and others of us have chosen to be Jews. Yet we all hear them using our own languages to tell the wonderful things God has done.

12 Everyone was excited and confused. Some of them even kept asking each other, “What does all this mean?”

13 Others made fun of the Lord’s followers and said, “They are drunk.”

14 Peter stood with the eleven apostles and spoke in a loud and clear voice to the crowd:

Friends and everyone else living in Jerusalem, listen carefully to what I have to say! 15 You are wrong to think that these people are drunk. After all, it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 But this is what God had the prophet Joel say,

17
“When the last days come, I will give my Spirit to everyone.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions, and your old men will have dreams.
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In those days I will give my Spirit to my servants, both men and women,     and they will prophesy.

19
I will work miracles in the sky above and wonders on the earth below.
There will be blood and fire and clouds of smoke.
20
The sun will turn dark, and the moon will be as red as blood before the great and wonderful day of the Lord appears.
21
Then the Lord will save everyone who asks for his help.”

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What drew my attention today was the startling change in the disciples from Easter Morning to Pentecost.
John 20:19 The disciples were afraid of the Jewish leaders, and on the evening of that same Sunday they locked themselves in a room.
The disciples were afraid.  They stayed off the streets, out of the public eye. As far as we know, they talked only among themselves and did not share the news that Jesus was no longer dead. I’m supposing that just to be safe, they told no one that Jesus had been to visit them in person, in the flesh. I imagine them sitting around, discussing over and over what they would have, could have done differently, wondering what Jesus resurrection meant to Jesus’ ministry.   Word might get to the high priests or the Roman authorities and they would be hunted down and silenced.  They stayed together, safe for the moment.  How many of them were thinking of packing it up and heading back home to fishing or tax collecting. But five weeks later that all changed:
Acts 2 On the day of Pentecost all the Lord’s followers were together in one place.
2 Suddenly there was a noise from heaven like the sound of a mighty wind! It filled the house where they were meeting.
3 Then they saw what looked like fiery tongues moving in all directions, and a tongue came and settled on each person there.
4 The Holy Spirit took control of everyone, and they began speaking whatever languages the Spirit let them speak.
5 Many religious Jews from every country in the world were living in Jerusalem. 6 And when they heard this noise, a crowd gathered. But they were surprised, because they were hearing everything in their own languages.
What a change! From being inside, out of sight, they have been blown out the door by the Holy Spirit. They are confronting hundreds of people, on their own front porch. They are all talking at once, not in low tones, but in proclamation. And, really amazing, they have in an instant become fluent in a second or third language!
They were no longer avoiding the authorities.  They were no longer hiding. They were no longer keeping the Good News to themselves.  What happened?  The Holy Spirit happened!
I see the hand of God here.  If you were God, if you had sent your Son to walk among humans as a human being, if you had watched your son be tortured so that those humans could walk in solidarity with you all the way to the Pearly Gates…and those humans were sitting on their hands, holding up the whole plan……..if you were God, what would you do? Let them mope or push them out the door?
I think of myself as often hiding out in that room, safe from the authorities. In my case the authorities are in my imagination.  I imagine THEM asking “Who does she think she is?” “They probably have their own faith practices.” “They probably don’t want to go to church.”  “They probably….”  “They probably…”
That is the dark room of my fear. That is the dark room where I  selfishly keep the good news to myself.
What did the disciples talk about during those fifty days of hiding?  What would you talk about?  What do we talk about after a person has died?  We talk about what the person said and did. We review everything we remember about that person.  The disciples surely did the same, recalling every sermon, every parable, every miracle, every conversation.  Surely, as they discussed the parables, the commandments, they came to a greater understanding.
The disciples were good at sticking together, at meeting in community.  So are we.  We are good at attending meetings, community events, worship. But at some point the meeting has to be adjourned and the disciples, now and then, them and us, have to go out into the world.
Coming to church, coming to worship with you gets me out of that dark room of doubt. Here, the wind of the Holy Spirit fills me and I easily inhale that Holy Wind. I pray that the same happens for you. We come together in community, just like the 120 on Pentecost, and we inhale the essence of Jesus, of faith of sacraments.
That community is good; it is necessary to keep us on the path Jesus has described and proscribed for us.  But are we blown out the door into the world, or do we return to the dark room of doubts when we leave here.  Do we doubt our ability to invite others to join our community of faith?

When you think of the Holy Spirit, What appears in your mind?  The other symbol for the Holy Spirit is the dove, as it broke from heaven when Jesus was baptized.  Don’t you think it’s unusual that we can use both the dove and the bright red flame of fire to symbolize the Spirit?  Spirit is a human attribute.  When you are in high spirits, how do you feel? In a secular context, talk about team spirit.  Team spirit means enthusiasm and that enthusiasm, multiplied by the number of people in a gym or stadium, can inspire athletes to greater deeds. Team spirit in a business meeting can inspire employees to create new plans and new visions.
How can we use the Holy Spirit to create that same enthusiasm in us?  Listen to the description of the Holy Spirit again:
There was noise:
2 Suddenly there was a noise from heaven like the sound of a mighty wind! It filled the house where they were meeting.
There was something that looked like fire:
3 Then they saw what looked like fiery tongues moving in all directions, and a tongue came and settled on each person there.
The Holy Spirit took control:
4 The Holy Spirit took control of everyone, and they began speaking whatever languages the Spirit let them speak.
What does the Holy Spirit sound like in our lives?  What does the Holy Spirit look like in our lives?  What if we let the Holy Spirit take control in our lives.  I’m not talking about our church lives alone.  Let’s face it: to make this church into the presence we want it to be, we cannot separate our church lives from our secular lives.
When we gathered together to form this new congregation, we said we wanted to be a prescience in the community.  What if we wanted to be more? What if we wanted to be a force in the community?
On that Pentecost that we commemorate today, the disciples, the original 120, were blown out the door and into the world to proclaim Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit armed them with the tools to preach and reach and teach three thousand people.
They were given the gift of language. They already had the gift of knowledge, first hand knowledge learned at the feet of Jesus.
I wonder if we realize that we have the gift of language, too. We speak the same language as those we work with, those we play with.
Perhaps it is our knowledge, or lack of, that makes us less confident.  We can be confident about this building, about its appearance, but are we confident enough to share the good news, not about our building, but about our congregation?
What if we were cooped up together for fifty days, and could talk about Jesus, wonder about Jesus, reminisce about Jesus, ponder Jesus’ teachings, would we emerge ready to reach out into the community?
Perhaps me doing all the talking isn’t that helpful. What gifts have you been given that equip you to talk about faith, to talk about what church means to you, about why church is a good thing. What gifts do you need?
Do you need more than this little time we have together?
On Pentecost, we inhale the mighty wind of the Holy Spirit.
When you inhale, you have to exhale. What happens when we exhale the love of Jesus, the good news of salvation, the knowledge of The Way?  Let the breath of the Holy Spirit blow through you into the lives of those around you.  Amen.