by Rev. Brendan Curran, Assoc. Minister         –          May 25, 2017

As we come to the end of our Easter season we move into Pentecost!  resistance flower.phpPentecost marks the birth of the church.  At Pentecost we as people of faith are named, “Ekklesia,” or, “the ones called out.”  Pentecost marks the calling out of the original disciples into the world, on fire with the Holy Spirit, to proclaim the good news.  They are called out into a world of hunger to proclaim news of bread.  In a world of violence, they are called out to proclaim peace.  In a world of oppression and ignorance they are “called out” to proclaim liberation and recovery of sight.  In some ways, the times might seem similar and the work remains the same. The season of Easter allows us a moment to speak of resurrection and the triumph of life and love over fear and death.  Pentecost tells the story of how that hope sustains us and catalyzes our action.  At Pentecost, we give ourselves to the practice of letting hope sustain our hearts.  We practice allowing it to carry us forward and push us into action.  As the church, we are the continuation of, “the ones called out.”  If we are to live into our calling of being engaged in the world and bringing God’s Love into the world, we need to have a strategy for maintaining hope.

I recently read a very helpful blog post by a community organizer named Abby Brockman, who works for a group called SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice.)  On the topic of maintaining hope she expresses that we hope because, “Despair is not a strategy.” Sometimes I feel our faith tradition sets remarkable standards for us but sometimes leaves out the instructions, so here are several, “principles of hope,” Brockmon offers that can serve as helpful instructional tips for maintaining hope.

  • Remember that Hope can co-exist with other feelings.  We can be experiencing grief or sadness and also be hopeful.
  • Small actions matter
  • Hope is a basis, not a substitute, for action.
  • Total victory is not the goal

My swords into ploughsharesfavorite principle of hope that she offers states, “If you embody what you aspire to then you have already succeeded.”  Embodying what we aspire to as people of faith forms the basis of how we teach each other hope as the church.  When we aspire to beloved community, to the realm of God, and toward manifesting the love of Christ, and manage to embody it together in small ways, we get to witness glimmers of that greater beauty in our midst.  Those glimmers become our offerings to each other and to God.  Prayer, community, and service are ways that we as a church, “embody what we aspire to.”

This past mother’s day, the interfaith community gathered by the river to pray together for peace in recognition of the holiday’s origins, which was created by an international community of women calling for global disarmament.  Participants shared their individual prayers for peace, and with each prayer, threw a flower on the water.  After a little while of this, our prayers became a beautiful scene of colorful flowers spread out all across the water floating onward. SuccessFlowers on the water may seem weak in a world that takes pride in “the mother of all bombs” and multi-billion dollar arms deals, but these flowers remain indestructible in the realm of God.  By embodying the peace we aspire to as people of faith, in a simple act of throwing flowers on the water and singing together, we established it there for a moment.

In a way, all our prayers and acts of service are like throwing flowers on the water.  At Easter God establishes peace in our hearts and during Pentecost we remember it’s up to us to declare it in our actions.  At Pentecost we remember we have been “called out” in this way.  We’ve accomplished a lot together this Easter season. The church’s youth group has contributed to the building of a house in rural Maine for the h.o.m.e. cooperative, and planted a beautiful vegetable garden!  The mission and justice committee has begun conversation on how to help refugee families, the congregation painted rainbow welcome doors on a beautiful jubilation Sunday celebrating our vibrant church school.  This was followed by a joyful celebration of our church’s 300 years of ministry with a bouncy house, a band, and a picnic.  All these things are our beloved community’s flowers on the water.  When we seek to embody the love of Christ we aspire to, we discover it to be the life, the living water, and the hope that carries us.  We discover ourselves as flowers on that living water.  Wherever you are “called out” to this summer, may that Love go with you, and may you remain hopeful!  Remember you are a flower on the water from God and a flower on the water from our church wherever you go.