Monday, May 20, 2013

The Upper Room

Pentecost is my favorite day of the year.   Of course, I love the joy and wonder of the Nativity and fall to my knees at the miracle and grace of resurrection.  But it is Pentecost that really speaks to my soul.   This is the day the Spirit sends us out into the world to DO stuff.

On Saturday, on the way to the staff outing at Pulhapanzak Falls, Suzy asked me if I would like to preach the next day - Pentecost Sunday!  First I was frozen in terror but then, gamely, agreed.  Fortunately, it is a 3.5 hour drive to  and from the falls so I had plenty of time to think about a sermon.   The image that kept coming to mind was the Upper Room, where the Apostles were hanging out after the resurrection.  It wasn't so much what happened in the room (fire on the heads of the Apostles, speaking in tongues, the mighty wind from heaven) that captured my attention, it was the room itself.

And this is what I spoke to the kids about.  The Upper Room.    We built a room, with Jonibel as the door.  Some of the Apostles were comfortably in the room. We agreed that a room can be a very good place to be.  You feel safe there.  You are there with your best friends.  Everyone has experienced the same events, you can worship and pray the same way.

We decided to invite more people into the room.  It got very crowded.  It became obvious that not everyone in the church could fit in the room.  Hmmm.      Did the Jesus come just to save the people in the Upper Room?  No!  How many people did He come to save?  Thousands, millions, billions...every single person in the world.   How could the Apostles share the Good News from the Upper Room?  
They couldn't.  Not to the scale the Lord intended.  Hence the arrival of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church.  So we opened the door (Jonibel!) and sent the Apostles and their friends out into the world, "Vaya!  Vaya!"  Go, go... 

We all have our "upper rooms."  On Sunday, we looked around our "room," the church at the Children's Home.  It is a beautiful room.  We can fit many people in there, certainly all of the staff and children and, perhaps, many people from the village of San Buenaventura.  But we can't fit everyone from Tegucigalpa in there, or from Honduras, or from the rest of the world.  So we must go out of our comfort zone, leave our friends and those like us and be like the Apostles.  When they left the Upper Room, they didn't know exactly what they would do.  But they were ready and had willing hearts.  The kids and I realized we can't save every single person but we can minister to those the Lord puts in our path, be it someone in another country, our country, our city, our village or our own home.  It isn't the location that matters, it is the action.

 Another troubling aspect about rooms is that they can also keep people out.  I am not suggesting the Apostles in the Upper Room did this, but what about our "upper rooms?"    We can shut people out by the words we use, the judgments we make, the attitudes we have.   Think about the messages that come from clergy, church doctrine, and avowed Christians.  Do they further the Kingdom of God?   Many of them do.  But all too often they don't.   Having just spent 2 months in the US I am deeply grieved to say that some of the most hateful speech I heard came from Christian leaders.   Not only does this speech and these attitudes not further the Kingdom, they drive people away.  The Upper Room becomes smaller and smaller as fewer and fewer people can pass through the heavily guarded doctrinal door.  The infighting, schism, and judgmentalism add barbed wire, locks and obstacles to the Kingdom's entrance.  

So, this Pentecost season, fling open the doors to your Upper Rooms!  Step out in faith, show you are Christians by your love, and above all, follow the model of our "little Pastor" Daniel:


Brothers and Sisters, go in peace to love and serve the Lord!  
Thanks be to God!