Friends in Christ,
The Season of Pentecost begins June 9, marking the birth of the early church. What a chaotic and uncertain time it must have been for the followers of Jesus!
Acts 2 reminds us that the community gathered was composed of Jews of many nations, and all who gathered could speak and understand one another — each in their own language.
As amazing as this is, the description of Pentecost is somewhat frightening! Violent wind and tongues of fire fill the house. The Holy Spirit moves among them, giving them the ability to speak other languages. When I try to imagine it, I think it must have been an amazing, overwhelming and unsettling experience!
Of course, there were skeptics — the crowd was accused of being drunk! But Peter steps in and defends the miracle of what has happened, suggesting that the experience is the fulfillment of words from Prophet Joel:
In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.
I love this declaration — it is a reminder to all of us, regardless of our age, gender, status, circumstance, that in God’s time, in God’s plan, we all are invited to give voice and vision to the abundance and promises of God. We are all called to bear witness to the love and justice of God in the face of the systems and structures at work in the world that are death-dealing and destructive to people and our planet. We are all called to listen and dream together, beyond our differences, to proclaim that a different world is possible and that as the church, we are to participate in God’s transformation of the world.
We commemorate this holy, chaotic season of the church’s birth by receiving the Pentecost Offering (specialofferings.pcusa.org/pentecost). The Pentecost Offering is an opportunity to support our youth and young adults as they claim their vision and voice in our church and in the world. It also supports ministry for children at risk, children who are being swallowed by the systems and structures that would deny them a future where they have voice and agency.
As Reformed Christians we believe that God is always at work transforming lives, transforming the world and yes, transforming the church! While sometimes the Spirit’s presence is in violent winds and tongues of fire, it just as often comes in surprising and more subtle ways — through the wisdom borne of both age and youth, the voices from the underside of society that have been marginalized and discounted. I invite and encourage you to listen, listen beyond your differences. It is the voice of Pentecost, the voice of the church being born and reborn.
Sara Pottschmidt Lisherness
“Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.”—Isaiah 58:12
The Compassion, Peace & Justice (CPJ) ministry engages with Presbyterians and partners across the U.S. and internationally to:
End poverty and hunger as we:
- Assist and accompany vulnerable communities working to improve their lives
- Support education, training and capacity-building programs
- Work for long-term solutions to systemic poverty and injustice
- Listen to, amplify the voices of partners, and join in action toward these goals
Restore communities impacted by disaster as we:
- Partner with communities affected by disasters, environmental degradation and systemic racism
- Provide training, disaster preparedness and capacity-building programs for mid councils, partners and responders
- Mitigate the impact of disasters and their underlying causes
Promote peace and transform cultures of violence as we:
- Educate, advocate and respond to domestic and international conflicts
- Provide opportunities to learn about peacemaking initiatives, and to accompany impacted communities
- Address structural racism, white supremacy, misogyny and violence; and work for human rights and dignity
- Encourage the study and practice of nonviolence
- Confront the epidemic of gun violence
Promote solidarity with people as we:
- Amplify the voices of those whom society marginalizes and stand with communities as they defend their rights
- Challenge systems of oppression, discrimination and abuse
- Partner with those who seek livable wages and just labor practices
- Engage with partners working with refugees, immigrants, asylum seekers, citizens returning from incarceration, and people impacted by trafficking or forced labor
Promote solidarity with creation as we:
- Work toward environmental justice, creation care, sustainable living, appropriate technologies and climate justice
- Support food and farm systems that restore God’s creation
- Challenge systems that put profit ahead of health, safety and the environment
- Honor and respond to the leadership of frontline communities experiencing environmental degradation and/or environmental racism
- Articulate and advocate for a just transition toward an equitable and sustainable economy
The ministries of Compassion, Peace and Justice are supported by your contributions to the Presbyterian Mission Agency through your local congregation.