Sermon for Pentecost, Year B May 20, 2018


Ezekiel 37:1-14                   Psalm 104:25-35, 37                        Acts 2:1-21                 John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15

Our reading from Ezekiel is a favorite among many who enjoy singing the old spiritual song, Dem Bones.  The song tells us, “dem bones gonna rise again,” because that is what happens in Ezekiel when the breath of God enters the bones that filled the valley before the prophet.  The bones are first connected and covered with flesh, then the breath of God fills them with life and we are told they “stood on their feet, a vast multitude.”  God explains to Ezekiel what he has just witnessed saying, “these bones are the whole house of Israel.  They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’”

Some Sunday’s like today, I have a choice on the scriptures we will read.  Little did I know when I selected the passage from Ezekiel, that yesterday some of the music sung at the royal wedding would be spirituals.  Presiding Bishop Curry preached, and spoke of the power of love, that changes the world.  Reporter and people on Facebook were commenting on his words and the fact that this marriage between an African American divorcee and a member of the Royal British family was indeed a sign that the world is being changed by love.  And it is.  Society is more accepting of differences today as our hearts are being opened.

In the book of Acts, we heard the story of the Holy Spirit entering the house in which the disciples were gathered.  We are told, “Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.”

Peter then speaks to the crowd and people of every language can understand him.  This is the power of love that Bishop Curry was speaking of, everyone can understand love – though many fail to understand that it is God who is the source of all love.

We say the Christian Church was born that day in Jerusalem, because it is when the disciples began to spread the good news of Jesus throughout Judea and the world.  It is when people began to experience, through them, the love of Christ, and be touched by its power.

Yesterday’s wedding was for many on both continents, a testimony to the power of love and how it is changing the world for the better.  Friday’s school shooting was not.  Those who commit such acts of violence have rejected the love of God. Their hearts are empty, or full of rage and hatred.  Hatred can only be stopped with love.  It is clear there are valleys full of dry bones throughout our nation – places where people have lost all hope and believe they have been cut off completely from the love of God.

Many people today are angered by the lack of response by our nation’s leaders to the school shootings.  They say that our thoughts and prayers are not enough.  They are outraged by the lack of action – our leaders argue about what needs to happen and fail to reach any consensus – and the problem continues.  Many have lost hope.

Ironic.  On Friday, the hope for a better world was shattered for many on this continent, and on Saturday it was renewed for many on another continent.  The people of Israel felt deserted by God, and for the families of the children and teachers who were killed on Friday, I am certain they can identify with the feeling they have been cut off from the love of God.

It is not true.  The truth of Bishop Curry’s sermon on love is true on this continent as well.  He said, “there is power in love, don’t underestimate it” and he added,” “love can heal when nothing else can.”  This is what we need to hold onto today and remember.  “Love can heal when nothing else can.

The job before us in this country is to love, and to make love the way to solve our problems in our homes, in our families, and in this nation.  Love does not mean we sit still and do nothing about the problems our nation faces, it means we work together, rather than finding groups to blame.  Bishop Curry said:

Imagine our homes and families when this way of love is the way. Imagine our neighborhoods and communities when love is the way. Imagine our governments and nations when love is the way. Imagine business and commerce when this love is the way. Imagine this . . . world when love is the way.

We not only need to imagine what can happen when love is the way, we need to share our love with every child and family that dem dry bones of hopelessness might be brought to life with the breath of God.

We, by ourselves, may not be able to changes the laws and make our schools safer, but each of us has the ability to reach out to other in need with love.  We need to be filled with the power of love, given to us by the Holy Spirit, our Advocate that Jesus speaks of in the Gospel of John, who is the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, the source of our love.  It is the Advocate, the Spirit of truth, who Jesus says, “will guide you into all the truth.”

The truth of love is what, Bishop Curry says, will move us to “treat each other like we are actually family.  We must rediscover the redemptive power of love,” he says, “and when we do, we will make this old world, a new world. Love is the only way.”

Let us pray.

O heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our being:  We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget you but may remember that we are ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.