At my new job, I won’t be the chaplain of a school any more, so I won’t be preaching for a long while, until some other congregation decides I’m worth the hassle, or I get asked to visit. There will be two more sermons here, this week’s and next week’s, and then that’s all folks, for a good long while — possibly forever.
Today is Pentecost, the fiftieth day after Easter. It’s called the feast of the tongues of flame, because crowns of fire, or light, or energy, settled on the heads of the disciples, and the crowd of witnesses heard the disciples speaking to them in all their native languages. It’s the moment when the message of the Gospels gets opened to the world for the first time. God empowers the followers of Jesus to speak in all the languages of humanity, and to spread the message of love and salvation to everyone. My friend Rob Baldwin calls it the Miracle of the Ear — it’s not that the disciples are able to say Jesus’s message to a larger audience that’s so important; it’s that the audience chooses to listen, hear, and understand.
The Psalm this morning, number 104, is about the natural world, and how it depends on God’s presence and connection for its continued existence. In the Acts of the Apostles, it’s the story of the tongues of flame. And in the Gospel, it’s Jesus telling his disciples that the Father is in him, and he is in the Father.
If Christmas is Incarnation — Jesus coming into the world — and Easter is Resurrection — Jesus rising from the dead… then Pentecost is … connection. The awareness God is the connecting force that binds everyone and everything together. The physicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson said it thus, “We are all connected, to each other biologically; to the Earth, chemically; to the rest of the universe atomically.” By which he meant that the same atomic elements that make the stars, also make us. The same molecules and particles, in roughly the same concentrations and proportions, make the rest of the planet beneath our feet. The same DNA is in you, as is in me.
Remember that. Remember that we are not just Easter and Christmas people, forever celebrating two unique events in history, when God came to live as a human being, and when God conquered death. Remember that we are also people of the Pentecost. The same tongue of flame that settled on the apostles is on you. God has connected you to everything else around you, if you but have the ears and eyes to see it.