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A Message from Pastor Dave Schreiber

Dear Risen Lord disciples: Lately I’ve been brushing up on my more-than-rusty-high-school-era-German with a marvelous free app called “Duolingo.” I am SO looking forward to returning to Germany in 2022 when I will be leading two tours that feature the epic once-in-a-decade Oberammergau Passion Play. In my experience, Germans appreciate even halting attempts by American tourists to speak simple phrases in the local language – even though most of them are fluent in English (and often several other languages as well…). Words spoken and heard connect human beings to each other. I’m writing this on Pentecost Sunday afternoon, having “attended” worship (via livestream) at two of my former parishes earlier today. One of them had several lectors taking turns reading the Pentecost story in different languages. It was a striking way of getting a glimpse of the Pentecost story, hearing the Good News of God’s love for the world in the miraculous event of words spoken in a language the listeners could truly hear. It also strikes me that Pentecost is a story for our time. Think of it: “We live in a world where words have become toxic, where the languages of our cherished "isms" threaten to divide and destroy us. The troubles of our day are global, civilizational, catastrophic. If we don't learn the art of speaking across the borders that separate us, we will burn ourselves down to ash…” So writes Debie Thomas, a Christian author whose thoughtful essays appear in a webzine called “Journey with Jesus.” She grieves that the pandemic, which early on seemed to have the potential to unite and connect us, has often exacerbated our many divisions – even in the church. Let me share some more of her thoughts: “For many of us, the temptation to retreat into our enclaves is especially strong right now. We can’t see outside of our social media bubbles. We’ve lost faith in the possibility of genuine dialogue. Our faith is faltering. But this is precisely why we need Pentecost. What mattered on that first birthday of the church was not the rhetorical skills and the religious acumen of the disciples. What mattered is that they followed Jesus’s instruction to stay in one place, pray without ceasing, and wait for the Holy Spirit to come with power and do a new thing — both in them and through them. What mattered was that the disciples — bumbling and clueless as they so often were — obeyed the prompting of the Spirit and allowed themselves to be transformed by the wind, the fire, the breath, and the tongues of God. Everything else followed from that.” My Risen Lord friends, it is no small thing that the Holy Spirit used human language to break down barriers on the birthday of the church. Words spoken and heard connect human beings to each other – and the language of God’s love is universal. It strikes me Debie’s words are also a winsome challenge to Risen Lord in this transitional time: “There is no way to overstate how much we need to gather as God’s people right now and ask the Holy Spirit to instruct us, shape us, remake us, and commission us. We need fresh languages of bridge-building. We need new words to rekindle love. We need the wind and fire of God to challenge our complacencies, reset our priorities, ease our anxieties, and move us out.” Be well, friends. You are loved. Pastor Dave Schreiber


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