Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org

What In The World?

Listen to the Sermon or the Entire Service

May 24:

Call:       John 15: 26-27
Reading:    W&S #39
Text:       Ezekiel 37: 1-10, 14
Closing:    Acts 2: 1-21

            What In The World

How in the world can preaching on Pentecost be difficult?

It should be easy!
After all Pentecost is  lively  and exciting,   and invigorating

The sermon or message should write itself.
    And this is the case whether the text is
Ezekiel in the Valley of The Dry Bones
    Or  The Acts 2 story of the Pentecost event itself

Both are amazing,   "What-In-The-World"     stories

Both stories itself are full of action and amazement
And this preacher   at least,   has always loved this story.

And to top it off, I always recall
    A prelude or offertory that Ellen Emery played at Grace
        [One,   by the way,     she got for Laura Toland]
    Kept running through my head.

That musical piece took an organ and made it sound like a calliope at a fair or a circus.

Somebody could write music that would bring the feeling of Pentecost alive
But for some time this week,   I could not find the words to do that.

And then I realized
    That I was nearly as dry    as the bones in Ezekiel's valley.

You see:    The process of moving and packing and sorting
    Has taken a lot out of me.

Then this week:

I used some of the mental and emotional energy that I had left
    To do Helen Ober's service

And I used a little more
    To speak at the hospital's memorial service

And an additional amount
    To prepare and lead the Bayside service

I expended some of what was left
    In order to meet with Brooke and help the transition
        For her and for the congregation

Finally, I reduced the remaining reserve
    By worrying about being prepared
        To speak at the Firemen's service at 8:00 on Monday
        To pray at Ives Park after the parade
        To finish what I need to write for the newsletter
    And To put together the Commission on Archives and History display
Before leaving Tuesday morning
for the annual conference session in Syracuse

I have enjoyed everything that I have done
I look forward to doing every thing I have to do.
But there was so little of me left that when I called on my brain to help bring Pentecost alive
        It responded with a flat, dull sound
        That more resembled a plop than a calliope.

But strangely enough,       this realization brought alive
both Ezekiel's vision and the events of Pentecost.

For I realized that I was very much like
the lifeless dry bones
And very much like
the worn out and confused followers of Christ.

And thus the events in the stories spoke to me.

For in each case the Holy Spirit gave life to
    The drained and lifeless.

The truth is that every one of us has felt like I did this weekend.

Every one of us has felt drained, over burdened, and discouraged

Every one of us has needed the infusion of the Holy Spirit
    To revive us like in the Ezekiel scripture
    To motivate us and drive us forward like in the story of the Pentecost  the day the church was born.

So what we need to do now       is allow ourselves
to recall and try to recapture
what those times of being drained have been like

And then listen to our text.
First from the OT prophet:  [Ezekiel 37: 1-10, 14]

As we recall the times when we were drained
    We hear this story
    We see this story
        For it is impossible to hear this story without seeing it in our minds.

And we hear and see the prophet prophesying
    "Thus says the Lord God:
    'come from the four winds, O breath'
    'breathe on these slain that they might live'

And as we hear this and see this
we start to feel life come back into us
we feel like we are coming out of what seems like our graves
and we recognize that the Lord has spoken
        and that the Lord will act.

We are revived!     And we get up to live!
    Trusting in, praising, and serving the Lord, our God.

But if seeing ourselves as dry bones in the Raquette River Valley
    Doesn't cut it for us
We can put ourselves in the position of the disciples
on the days before the day we celebrate today
    The Pentecost that took place ten days after Christ's ascension.

As I noted last week when we talked about that ascension
    Jesus' followers had been through a lot

So having put ourselves in their shoes/sandals,
We hear him say not only that he will die
    But also that one of us will betray him.

Then we see him arrested
And we see him led to the cross to die
    And instead of staying there for him
    We scatter to avoid being caught.

We then spend one truly awful Saturday
    Confused, second guessing,
    Betrayed and angry
    Drained from the events and unable to do much of anything.

But on Sunday
    Mary tells us that the tomb is empty
    And that she has seen the Lord

Still confused and puzzled
    We cannot allow themselves to be joyous
        What Mary said was just too unbelievable
        To change our mood to joy.

Then that evening, however,
    Christ appears to us
in a locked upper room in which we have gathered.

Happiness returns
He spends six and a half weeks with us
    Teaching us, reassuring us, restoring our attitudes

And then is again taken from us
    While telling us to be his witnesses and to make more disciples.

Whatever energy had been restored to us has dissipated.

We make arrangements to replace Judas,
    But as we sit and wait - for what we don't really know
    We undoubtedly get discouraged and emotionally drained

We feel like ...
Well, we feel like I felt when I tried to prepare this message
We feel like there is so little of us left that when we call on our brains
        They respond with that flat, dull sound
        That more resembles a plop than a calliope.

But once again the story in the scriptures is a great gift
[Acts 2:1-21]

And hearing this,

We are revived!     And we get up to speak to others and to live!
    Trusting in, praising, and serving the Lord, our God.

Sometimes it is good to be drained until we are empty
    For that enables us to discover that even then
the Holy Spirit can breathe new life and new energy into us

While it is not always with the "What in the World" experiences
    Like the two in this morning's stories,
The lesson is that God is always there
to lift us up   to revive us
and to once again give us life.