Lectionary blog on John 15:9-17; Acts 10:44-48; 1 John 5:1-6
Lectionary text for Easter 6, Sunday, May 13, 2012
Sometimes the Holy Spirit does not wait for the preacher to stop preaching. Sometimes the time is right now, and the Holy Spirit falls upon all those hearing the word.
The Holy Spirit is poured out, even on Gentiles. This Spirit sounds like she’s got some substance — at least as thick as water or blood. But maybe more solid, weightier, sure to make some noise when she fell upon the assembly at Cornelius’ house.
As the story goes on in Acts, there’s plenty of noise soon afterward: The people start speaking in tongues and praising God. Something is happening amid all these relatives and friends of the Roman centurion.
(Think of your Sunday morning assembly. Something is happening amid the babies crying, the young children giggling, the old folks muttering under their breath.)
The Holy Spirit at work can sound like chaos. And then there is another noise: splashing and deep intakes of breath, as people are pulled up out of the water into new life in Christ.
What is happening here? Jesus Christ is choosing new followers, new friends to join the baptized community. “You did not choose me but I chose you.” We do not get to orchestrate how God will act and work — in our own lives or the lives of our neighbors.
This makes someone like me nervous. I like to be in charge.
Yet these texts fall upon me with a crash, reminding me I am called to be obedient, to serve the Christ who has chosen me. Though, like Peter, I may work hard at preaching the gospel, my words go only so far. After all, my congregation in Bratislava may speak 30 languages or more cumulatively, but English — not always so well.
So I am humbled. I must keep alert for the Holy Spirit to fall upon us. Then I better get out of the way and allow the Spirit to do her work.
For it is not our work, not our successes, not our choices that constitute the victory of faith. We do not choose Christ. Christ chooses us.
And Christ keeps choosing others — little ones, big ones — so that the vine might grow more fruit of the Spirit through our mouths, our hands and our feet. Fruit that is fragrant, juicy and rich — fruit that will last.
- What kind of noise does the Holy Spirit make in your life? In your assembly on Sunday morning?
- How is faith Christ’s choice of us? What about “our” choice to believe in Jesus and follow God’s commandments?
- What lasting fruit has grown in your life of faith? In your assembly’s life of faith?
Miriam Schmidt recently moved from the beautiful mountains of western Montana, where she was pastor of an ELCA congregation, to the central European city of Bratislava, Slovakia. She now is pastor of the Bratislava International Church and coordinator of the ELCA’s Young Adults in Global Mission program for Central Europe. She looks forward to welcoming four young adults to serve in Hungary starting in August 2012. Miriam lives with her spouse, Jeremy Blyth, and their 3-year-old daughter, Ursula.