You feel that too, don't you? I paused as I took my first steps into this church over four years ago. You feel that too, that feeling, said my tour guide. I do, I said, I feel like we aren’t alone here, even though the building is empty- but I want to know where do you keep Jesus? You see, it is normative for parishes to keep Jesus in a tabernacle- a dwelling place- where Jesus resides in the reserved sacrament. This presence is used as a center point for prayer and reflection and is an important symbol of our sacramental life. Seeing our parish at first, I didn't think it was possible to have a parish without the presence of Jesus at its heart, until I realized that the whole building was a tabernacle- a place of meeting between us and God. A place where languages are spoken, life moments marked, parties are held, and community is gathered. Yet, as humans we always think there has to be more, the “what’s next” of life. As followers of Jesus we have been encountering Jesus these fifty days in remarkably ordinary ways, always testing him to prove that this isn't just a joke, because we have been promised this moment the whole time jesus was alive. It can't possibly be this easy, can it? There has to be more to it than just this arrival. So when will we be satisfied?
For the Jewish nation, building edifices like the temple and tents of meeting were important places where humanity met God- however our access to God was always mediated by protocol and distance. The tabernacle- the meeting place- as at the heart of the building and we would only ever get as far as the outer courtyard. God was there, we could tell by the flame burning in the temple, but we were always at a distance from the holy centrepoints. So it's not a surprise then to hear in Genesis this morning of our need to build dwelling places to ensure we are always near to God, yet God does something weird- he scatters and confuses our language. It would be easy to read this as a punishment, however when read in the light of Acts and John- it becomes a blessing. Our language becomes confused- Genesis does not say we become confused. We are scattered around the world with a message about God in different languages showing the presence of God in our life, a message which challenges our social needs for satisfaction. But when will we be satisfied?
The moment of pentecost when the spirit breathed on us does not arrive in an orderly procession of choir and clergy moving effortlessly over the ground- almost like they were floating- to a packed out church and thundering organ. The spirit arrives to a community of terrified, wondering disciples, in a gust so strong we’d think it was a hurricane today. Imagine sitting in a wind tunnel for sunday worship... This unsettling wind, this power, this promised presence, opens up the disciples to speak in the chaotic language of their hearts, with the same message- Jesus is the Lord I follow.
The galeforce wind of the spirit at pentecost blows us from memory into action, from loss into life, from isolation into community, by illuminating our soul with the fire of God's love for the world, as we come to grips with the power of what it means to be a resurrection people. Pentecost is known as the season of the working church, because the most important work happens between now and Advent. We experience the gifts, stories, and mystery, of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, and Easter, so that our work of telling the world about Jesus is informed and grounded in the lifesaving reality of Christ’s love for all of us- moments that each of these seasons remind us of in our lives. At the centre of these feasts are perpetual reminders of our citizenship in the kingdom, which satiates a real human need. We need to feel like we are apart of something, and through the work of the Spirit- scripture and our liturgical life we move beyond all of this just being a story for us, and into a story that is about us. And in a moment we get to experience just how pentecost is a story about us, rather than for us, as we recommit ourselves to the work of the spirit in the mystery of our baptism, the moment of pentecost- when the spirit animated our life and tongues for God's kingdom.
The reason why we renew our baptismal covenant today is because we recognize both the need to affirm our dependence on god's help in all of this, and to give thanks and honour the gale force winds of the Spirits present in our lives from the moment of our baptism. Unlike other experiences in life that we can craft and control, baptism takes the rest of our life to understand and live into, and blows us into new an unlikely places, so we renew our covenant-a declaration of God's presence- in order to live it more boldly, more deeply, more personally, and more fervently.
The gift of pentecost, sealed into us at baptism, is about us moving beyond the walls of this building, holding the very presence of Christ in the tabernacle of our souls, and reaching out to a restless world which is aching to know when will it be satisfied, when will it be enough, and saying to those we love and know- come and see this amazing community. Come and dream with us, come and hear the visions of our kids, Come and experience the language of Gods love in the voices of those God’s called to make this parish home. Come and know the freedom I know, in a community of radical love which loves me beyond words. Come and meet Jesus.