In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.
This Monday Musings reflection is a day late because of the holiday, so we title it: Monday Musings – Tuesday Edition.
I pray you all had a blessed and restful Memorial Day.
We look ahead this week to the celebration of Pentecost, considered the birthday of the church.
As I stated a couple weeks ago, we are in “pre-assembly” mode around the Lutheran Center. I met with the board of the Lutheran Youth Organization and their advisors on Sunday, May 21, as they were putting the finishing touches on plans for the “Summer Lock-In” and their participation in this year’s Northeastern Ohio Synod Assembly. I came away from that meeting buoyed by confidence that this is going to be one unique assembly.
At this year’s assembly – June 9-10, at the John S. Knight Center in Akron – the youth will lead worship at the Friday Eucharist. They will also conduct two workshops that will engage adults in exploring together how youngsters can play a meaningful and purposeful role in the church today.
The youngsters have taken this responsibility to heart. They are paying attention to every detail. I observed, saying very little, but just taking in the wonder of it all. There was a spirit of excitement and joyfulness around the room. The youth were serious, but not too serious to have a little fun. Those that weren’t present, were piped in either by phone or skype.
It is common to do a lot of teleconferencing nowadays. Paper notepads have been replaced by laptops or other electronic devices.
But this meeting had a different feel to it.
It drove home a point I’ve stressed previously, that we have a lot to learn from our youth. It made me very mindful that virtually every one of us is creative as a child, but as we grow older we often lose a sense of that wonder and freedom that comes with creativity. As adults, we get too comfortable with the familiar, and often run the risk of losing the awareness that there are other ways of doing things that are just as valid as the way we do them.
It was a Pentecost moment for me.
Each year at Pentecost we hear the reading from Acts when the Holy Spirit descended on each of the faithful gathered on that day as tongues of fire accompanied by the rush of a violent wind. The Holy Spirit was present in that Lutheran Center conference room.
The Spirit’s presence is our assurance that, despite all our fears and concerns, the church has a future. God is good and always provides for us, but there are times when we need the rush of a mighty wind to overturn our way of thinking and call us to new ways of action in service to God.
Two gifts the Spirit brought the church that day of Pentecost were, a sense of unity and a sense of purpose or mission. That same Holy Spirit is still very much alive today and at work in us. The Spirit has given each one of us a talent to be employed, and a voice to be raised to speak of God’s deeds of power.
Our youth will see visions, and I pray that, by God’s grace, our adult hearts will be filled with the Spirit and open to join in visioning with them at the Knight Center next week when we gather for Synod Assembly.
This coming Sunday of Pentecost, June 4, I will gather with the people of God at Mt. Hope Lutheran Church in Shiloh, and we will celebrate their 175th Anniversary.
What I love about anniversaries is that it gives me an opportunity to remind the faithful of that congregation how their church came into being, what its early ministry was like, and how it has grown and changed over the years. It is also a benefit to the members in that it helps to focus on the church as a body of believers who have been blessed by the God.
Later in the afternoon of June 4, at 6 p.m., I will be at Zion Lutheran Church in Youngstown for the annual Eastern Conference Confirmation Service.
Being with these young men and women, their families and friends, as they affirm their baptism in the rite of confirmation, is one of the most enjoyable aspects of my ministry as bishop. And what a better day to do this than on the Day of Pentecost!
As you await the coming of the Holy Spirit this Sunday of Pentecost, may the Spirit of the living God fall fresh on you, melt you, mold you, fill you, and use you this week and always.
+Bishop Abraham Allende