June 5, 2022
Scripture Reading: Acts 2:1-17
I want to tell you a story that will lead us into the Pentecost event that Mike read to us. It’s a coffee shop story. It happened on Tuesday of last week – at “The Coffee Pot” in Greenville, Ohio, at the intersection of 5th and Broadway. We sat in the easy chairs right beside the windows. We had just greeted a new grandma with a weeks-old baby girl who was sleeping soundly in her arms.
We noticed a bit of a stir around the car, parked the second from the corner. A young teen was on his back, squirming his way under the car while his Dad was peering in through the grill and a passerby was watching with some interest. This search started to draw a bit of attention inside the coffee shop until someone in the next booth admitted that the car was hers, and they were looking for a kitten who had hidden itself in the engine compartment before she left home and was still there crying. She couldn’t find a way to get it out!
The problem drew more and more attention until the boy and his Dad gave up and the owner of the car had to leave. When she got in her car, the frightened kitty scampered out of the car she came in and into the first car on the corner, whose owner was unknown. The kitty continued to cry until it had drawn another group of passersby and a couple more customers from inside the coffeeshop!
A young woman tried squirming under the car to free the scared kitty to no avail. People stopped in their cars to see what was going on. The kitty didn’t move – even when they offered it milk. It was only when another woman had the nerve to see if the car doors were locked. They weren’t. She popped the hood and there this tiny, frightened, pretty little yellow kitty was sitting. They brought it into the coffeeshop to the cheers of all of us who had been watching from inside. The baby human never stirred.
Of course, when I see that event in my mind, I see that terrified, newborn kitten, so afraid that it was running for cover in a very dangerous hiding place, feeling so alone and vulnerable only inches from safety and the tender care of numerous compassionate humans and I see that baby girl all the time tucked in her grandma’s arms without a worry in the world. And I wonder if the kitty isn’t more like many of us humans at one time or another in our lives. Alone and afraid and just out of reach!
Surely the followers of Jesus were in that frightened state after his death and feeling abandoned, bereft, and, frankly, afraid. For three years, Jesus had become their solid companion, faithful and dependable. Strong and wise. And then – gone!
You’ve been there. Surely! Those fears are some of the most profound existential fears we ever face: Am I alone? In the end, is there anyone I can count on? Is God a myth or a child’s fairy tale to keep us from feeling like we must face life finally alone?
Jesus anticipated those dreads of ours in the last days of his time with his friends. The whole of John 14 is given over to that very human fear of being totally alone and abandoned.
Listen to snippets of what he said to his fearful disciples in those days before he left:
John 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
So the whole of the Pentecost event was no less than Jesus’ tender care for what he knew would be our sense of fear and abandonment. It was his concern that we should know that we are not alone in this life. And the comfort that he offers is not fundamentally in a book (Bible) nor is it in an Institution or a belief system. The comfort is in the very presence of God who lives within us. The Holy Spirit – the Helper – the Advocate – the Comforter – the Inner Teacher – the Inner Voice.
The Spirit that is within us – the One the Quakers call: “That of God in Every Person” is the promise of forever PRESENCE, forever POWER, and forever GUIDANCE.
You don’t need to go anywhere, consult any authority, be in any place because the presence of the Living God is within you! No wonder it looked like a flame of fire on the heads of every follower of Jesus that day of Pentecost. No wonder they saw and did wondrous things! For the first time, they knew the power and companionship of the One whom Jesus regularly consulted, the One who was his companion and great encourager in the worst of times. The same one who is at your disposal always and forever. So you don’t need to hide in whatever engine compartment you think shields you from danger. There is One who accompanies you from birth, through the toughest places any human can go, to your grave! Amen!