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We’re a time of endings. The ending of a school year. The ending of the time we’re going to need our winter boots, for a few weeks at least. The ending of Sunday school. And the ending of this season of The Narrative Lectionary, the text through which we look at scripture, from which we study, learn, and grow.

We have journeyed well the Israelites will promise as were made and fulfilled. We’ve walked the roads of Galilee with Jesus, all the way to Jerusalem to his death and Resurrection. We started in Genesis when God took mud and clay and made the Earth creature and breathed life into them. And here where the disciples were staying quiet and hiding out thinking all was dead the spirit the pneuma the Breath of God Breathe new life into a people.

Pentecost has to do with 50 Penta. For us Pentecost happens 50 days after Easter but it was first a Jewish holiday Shauvot, happening 50 days after Passover. It was both an agricultural Festival to bring the first pickings from one’s Garden or first gleanings from the field. But more importantly, it is a celebration of the giving of the law from God to Moses, the Torah, the Covenant upon which they would build a community, the kind of relationship they would be in with each other and with their God and with the Earth.

In a similar way, Pentecost is the giving of the spirit to build a new community that is the church.

And like any good guest, the Holy Spirit brings gifts.

I have been a part of plenty of churches that have at this point done some kind of to fill out to figure out what your spiritual gifts are. It’s usually just a handful or two. Much like the list Paul gives here some are showy and flashy prophesying and evangelizing and preaching and some are less flashy wisdom knowledge. Members of the Church of Corinth were convinced that some of the gifts, the flashy ones, speaking in tongues were far more important than all of the rest.

What often winds up happening when we think about spiritual gifts and we look at this list that Paul has written and then we realize we have none of them. Maybe we can look at other people and see their life as holy and name their spiritual gifts. Maybe we think it makes us humble to not make a big deal out of the things we are excited about or have talent for. Maybe we consider that Paul was writing to a particular group of people at a particular time in history and that maybe there are other spiritual gifts and this is not a comprehensive list for all time but even then we can pick out spiritual gifts and the Holiness of others but we’re just doing our thing.

And I get why everyone goes back to this list that Paul wrote. Because these are the ones that are confirmed clearly given to Paul by Jesus, the ones that he saw in the early church there in Corinth. And if there’s a board to that list then we have to do some discerning, well that can be hard.

Paul gives us some ideas, some guidelines: does it Proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and does it lift up the community. And to Proclaim that Jesus is Lord is to embody what we learned from Jesus to love God all of your heart and all of your soul and all of your mind and all of your strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.

Because the very next thing Paul writes about is that it doesn’t matter what you’re doing if it doesn’t end in love. It’s not done in love, it’s annoying as a clinging symbol or gong. It’s just noise. I was listening to some folks talk from 4 years ago when this text came up last time and they questioned if running the video camera for Sunday morning worship was a spiritual gift and how they might have said no or maybe in December of 2019 but by May of 2020 it absolutely was. To be fair it probably always was but it does mean that sometimes they do change a little and there are spiritual gifts today that wouldn’t have existed Paul couldn’t have even conceived of. But when what you do is done with love, that is a spiritual gift. When it lifts up, when it supports, when it cares for the community it is a spiritual gift.

And Paul uses the body as a metaphor and it’s brilliant. Maybe the best thing he ever did.

I did some physical therapy last year and I’ve learned a lot. First off bodies are absolutely weird and I don’t really understand how any of it works. It’s almost the same magic as an airplane. Like I’m sure I understood there were muscles attached to your job but I never really thought about them. And there are muscles like here in your jaw that are somehow connected to your neck and your shoulders giving you headaches all day. And their muscles in your legs and your arms that connect from your ankle up to the middle of your thigh. And if there’s something wrong with the way that you’re walking it can pull and hurt your knee and your hip and pull on your shoulder, probably your opposite shoulder . And I know we’re all one body so yes it’s all connected but someone taught me that your foot bone is connected to your ankle bone and your ankle bone is connected to your shin bone and so I assumed they were kind of segmented parts. But we are internally connected.

Economics and science are revealing or discovering or saying what theologians and philosophers among others have been saying for millennia: the Earth and the people under the creatures and all that grows upon it are connected. Marcus Aurelius in the second century BCE said all things are interwoven one with another United in a sacred bond.

The Reverend Dr King wrote in his letter from a Birmingham Jail: “In a real sense all life is interrelated. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be…This is the inter-related structure of reality.” (Letter from a Birmingham Jail, MLK Jr.)

Paul called it the body. Each of us is united by the Spirit of Love, the current that runs through all of creation, making us all one. Each part of the body is vital, necessary for the living of the whole, for the thriving of community, for abundant living–proclaiming love and lifting up the beloved community. The community we are called to build, that we are called to lift up is the one we are connected to. It is here and it is everywhere. All that is done in love of God and neighbor.

The Holy Spirit came to the disciples and gave them what they needed to speak into their day. The Holy Spirit came to the church in Corinth and gave them what they needed to build an equitable community. The Holy Spirit shows up each day, to each community, to give what the church needs for the day. She comes in fire and wind and storm, in unexpected ideas and deep connections and creativity, in hope and peace and courage. She shows up in life and breath and love.

Frederick Buechner wrote, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

What brings your heart deep gladness? What causes your heart to sing?

What reveals and helps you to feel the connection you already have with the Divine, to yourself, to your family, your neighbor, creation?

What gifts have the Spirit entrusted you with for the mutual benefit of all?