Saturday, May 19, 2018

Fire Of Burning Love

We begin with the lyrics from a famous song that have special meaning for today’s celebration of Pentecost.

Lord Almighty
I feel my temperature rising
Higher, higher
It's burning through to my soul

Girl, you gonna set me on fire
My brain is flaming
And I don't know which way to go,

Your kisses lift me higher
Like the sweet song of a choir
And you light my morning sky
With burning love

For the Elvis Presley fans in the pews, yes, it’s his song “Burning Love.”  It’s a song that reminds us of today’s first reading although it isn’t about a girl or kisses, but it is about being set on fire.

We read: When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…

Some of us may wonder if we really are filled with the Holy Spirit.  We may feel we are running on half empty, or half full for the optimists among us. Perhaps our Spirit registers low on our scale of enthusiasm for Church teaching and what Jesus says we must do to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. We may feel like the young man being told he must give up all his possession in order to enter the Kingdom.  What?  No more cells phones?

Perhaps we are not on fire, but are more like hot coals ready to burst into flame when stoked with the right kind of kindling or starter fluid. God has matches.  

Perhaps we’re more like sail boats ready and anxiously waiting for the wind. And when we hear a noise like a strong driving wind, we raise our sails and become what St. Paul says in the second reading.  Our sails fill, and we fly into action remembering we are the body of Christ, each of us with different kinds of spiritual gifts, each of us baptized into one body that is Catholic, Jew, Muslim, Hindu – rich, poor or in between; white, black or of any shade in between.

Christ asks us to sail with others through relationships of love and friendship especially when together we face rough waters of suffering, pain, fear, and loneliness. He gives us the Holy Spirit to endure those hardships knowing we are not alone. The Spirit is always with us, we just have to recognize that fact made especially obvious when we are charitable, forgiving, loving, and simply kind.

O special note, the Spirit was evident this morning in Britain at the marriage of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle when the Episcopal Bishop Most Reverend Michael Curry spoke to them and all in attendance of great diversity – many colors and faiths. He spoke of the fire of love. He spoke of inclusiveness.  He spoke of togetherness.

Drawing upon the song of Beatles John Lennon, he asked all to imagine our living and loving together as one.  He said love must be the way for neighborhoods and community; governments and nations; for poverty becoming history and for all brothers and sisters to truly be children of God.

A favorite author of mine is Brian McLaren.  He published a book last year entitled : “Seeking Aliveness – Daily reflections on a new way to experience and practice the Christian faith.” Among many things he said: All our social groups don’t need to wear the same paint and feathers, speak the same language, cook with the same spices and celebrate the same religious holidays.  But all our social groups – nations, religions, cultures, parties – need to convert from what we might call dirty energy to clean energy to fuel our tribal life. True, the dirty energy of fear, prejudice, supremacy, inferiority, resentment, isolation and hostility is cheap, abundant, and familiar. That’s why our societies run on it, even though it’s destroying us.  

More than ever before in our history, we need a new kind of personal and social fuel.  Not fear, but love.  Not prejudice, but openness.  Not supremacy, but service.  Not inferiority, but equality Not resentment, but reconciliation.  Not isolation, but connection.  Not the spirit of hostility, but the Holy Spirit of hospitality." 
Let’s ask ourselves if we run on dirty fuel, or on clean fuel.

Tomorrow there is a special Mass with Bishop DeCunha presiding.  He will confirm 36 young women and men. They will be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.  They will be strengthened for service to the Body of Christ.  They are to witness Christ in every situation.
They are to testify to the Truth.

It’s the message of that sacrament we all are supposed to hear as well.   Most of us in this Church were confirmed.  Did we get the message?  Have we tweeted lately?  Such as #ServingtheBodyofChrist

A story is told about a little boy who was flying a kite. It was a windy day, and the kite kept going higher and higher.  Finally it got so high that it was out of sight.  A man passed by and saw the little boy holding onto the string.  The man could not see the kite, and he asked the boy, “How do you even know you have a kite up there?” The boy replied, “Because I can feel it.”

Another story is told of a young woman being confirmed, and after the Mass was over she was asked by a friend, “Did you see the Holy Spirit?  Did you see a vision?” Another friend asked, “Did you hear God speak?”  She answered all of those questions with a simple “no.”

“Well then, how did you know you there was any effect?” they asked.

The young woman replied, “It’s like when you catch a fish; you can’t see the fish or hear the fish; you just feel him tugging on your line. I just felt God tugging on my heart.”

Today and every day, especially with spring upon us and summer not too far away, let’s feel those tugs on our kite strings and fishing poles. That’s the Holy Spirit on the ends of those lines waiting to be pulled in.  We pray the young men and women at Confirmation tomorrow will feel the tug – the pull – God’s call.  

We end with a simple but slightly modified Burning Love refrain:

Lord Almighty
we feel our temperatures rising
Higher, higher
It's burning through to our souls.

You lift us higher
Like the sweet song of our choir
And you light our morning sky
With the Holy Spirit’s burning love.
Help us know which way to go…
Set us on fire.

Deacon David Pierce

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