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Pentecost Sunday

“Wait,” Jesus said, “for the gift My Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…you will receive power when the Spirit comes on you, and you will be My witnesses...” (Acts 1: 4,5,8)

They waited; the Spirit came; Peter spoke with power and obviously the kind of authority Jesus had had, and those who heard responded.

Whenever the Spirit is mentioned, the image is dynamic: rushing wind, fire, flowing water, descending dove. Where is this Spirit today? What is the power Jesus promised? What does it mean to be a witness?

I am sitting in Shore Acres Garden outside Coos Bay, surrounded by beauty—bold rhododendrons in myriads of colors, more delicate azaleas, Gunnera with her awesome huge leaves, tiny white daisies and bright yellow buttercups scattered throughout the lawns, other flowers I cannot name—intense pink, purple, yellow---bushes with their differently shaped leaves, ferns, trees, huge fir trees overshadowing everything…

I hear the Spirit whispering, “The rhododendron doesn’t say to the azalea, ‘I am bigger and my flowers more beautiful than yours.’ The fir doesn’t announce proudly to the smaller trees, ‘The garden doesn’t need you.’

Gunnera doesn't say to the ferns, 'I am so much more important than you.'

The little daisies in their plentiful supply don’t whisper, ‘We are so insignificant, it takes so many of us just to be seen.’”

Every tree, bush and flower has been planted here with care by those with the artistic eye to see how each compliments the other to provide this breathtaking garden where every turn of the path opens new delights. Like an orchestra, where every instrument plays its part to produce the beauty of the symphony that leaves us so deeply moved, this garden, with its variety of color, size and texture, opens our eyes to greater beauty.

So, you may be wondering, what does this have to do with my being a witness, to being filled with power by God’s Spirit?

For me, the wonder of this garden reminds me of the many ways Paul talked about the body of Christ and our being members of one another. “If the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ Paul writes, ‘it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be?’” (1 Corinthians 12:16) In fact Paul continues to say, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you. On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts we think are less honorable, we treat with special honor.’” (1 Corinthians 12:21-23) Each part has its own function, without which the body could not thrive.

Paul also speaks of the gifts the Spirit gives. “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:7)

So,, I... beautifully designed by God (Psalm 139: 13-16), we each have our gifts, bestowed by the Spirit; we each have our part to play as God puts together His world. We are witnesses of God wherever we are…each smile, each greeting, each word of encouragement, each prayer, every breath taken with gratitude…every tear, every expression of grief… I wonder if we could embrace the realization that we really do “live and move and have our being” in God (Acts 17:28)…that every moment has its own significance… not in the sense of tasks that need to be accomplished, but just in the sense of resting in the wonder of being alive.

“Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?”, Paul asks. (1 Corinthians 6:19) The Spirit has been given to each one of us…equally, forever, without our deserving. We have the power to be witnesses as we live in the wonder of that indwelling Spirit and respond to His presence moment by moment. Welcome to the adventure of walking in the light of God! You are uniquely you. You are part of a specific community. You have a part to play in unfolding God’s Kingdom in this troubled world. Go, be light, be life today. Bring God’s presence into your world!

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