May 14, 2013

Now comes Pentecost. Two biblical accounts will figure prominently in our worship this coming Sunday. The first is the story of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on apostles as they were gathered in Jerusalem for Pentecost (fifty days after the Passover, when the giving of the law to Moses was commemorated). The Cambridge Annotated Study Bible tells us that “the Spirit enabled them to speak in other languages so the pious visitors from every nation heard them speak in their own native languages concerning God’s deeds of power.”

The second is the Genesis 11 account of the Tower of Babel in which, as a result of human pride run amok, the people of earth are scattered and their languages “confused.”
In many ways Babel and Pentecost stand in direct contrast to each other. At Babel there is division and Pentecost there is unity. At Babel there is confusion and Pentecost there is understanding. At Babel there is destruction and at Pentecost there is construction. Pentecost stands as a sort of “anti-Babel,” or reversal of Babel, account.

In considering this it is helpful to note that in unifying, connecting, and constructing not just a new religious identity but a new humanity, the Spirit uses human occasions, human gatherings and human language to do its life giving work. In the words of Amy-Jill Levine it is our role to “give the Holy Spirit something to work with.”

Prayers of the Congregation

  • Prayers for those whose bodies need strength and healing – Bette Pancoe (The Rehabilitation Center of Oakland – formerly Rounsville Convalescent Hospital, Sybil Alexander, Charlotte Evans, Doris and Ted Evans,  Carol and Steve Leichter, Cecil White, Joni Nomura, Sandra Dunn, David Broadnax,  George Lee for Sylvia, Edna Dorenzo, Virginia Damretzky, Al Johnson, Jamie Reid, Kay Baxter’s friend Abbott, Rae Rita Thompson’s father, Celestine Bennett’s son Richard, Dave Gattey’s brother Phil and sister in law Linda, Jim Jefferey, Jesus Portillo for Spanky and Willie, Joe Abrams for his father, Jeanne Robinson for Linda Ng, Cynthia Nelson, Myra Saxton for a friend diagnosed with lymphoma, Peg Shaw for a friend, Patricia Butterfield for a friend, Kimberly Williams for her father, Larry and Darnell Sims for their co-worker George, Karen Okusu, Joan Thatcher, Camille Parker for Michael Colombo, Erica Quinn for her student David
  • Prayers for those who are aging and their loved ones who care for them – Sandra Dunn for her father, Theresako Harris for her aunt, Larry Hutchings for his mother, Marc Harrison for his father, Sheryl Gattey for her mother, Ruth Smith, Naomi Nutting for her mother, Karen Hopkins for her father, Connie Hector for her mother in law
  • Prayers for those who are grieving – Declan Brown on the death of his friend Lew
  • Prayers for our loved ones who are facing significant challenges – Kay Baxter for Stacey, Georgia Upshaw for her friend Ginny, Toni Daniels for her family, Margaret Alexander for LaShaya and family, Joan Patten for her son Peter and her sister Anne, Rowena Jackson for her son Paul, Barry Breaux for his family, Mary Lee, Max Powers, Ann Fields for her family,  Steve Reimer for his son Greg,  Cordia Lee for Elysse and Elijah Green IV, John, Paige, Erica and Elijah Green III and herself, the Sims family, Zolette Hooks for her family, Zondra Martin for her family, Phil and Gloria Meads for Phillip Oliver
  • Prayers for our community- Our students, teachers, school employees and families, members of the police and fire departments and their families, medical care workers and their families, Tyrone Mack for Mrs. Moore, Our sister American Baptist and Alliance of Baptists congregations, the Oakland Police and Fire Departments
  • Prayers for people we don’t know who  are facing challenges we can’t imagine- For our Kachin brothers and sister, those who are incarcerated, all who are affected by gun violence, the people of Haiti, the people of the Syria, the people of the Korean Peninsula (both South and North), the people of Bangladesh, the people of China
  • Prayers of gratitude – The work of our Sanctuary Art Committee, the work of our local OCO committee in bring tutors from Holy Names University to Oakland Technical High School
  • Prayers for ourselves – May each of us know that we are counted among God’s beloved

Announcements

For the next few Sundays a model of the “Living Tree,” the work of art proposed by the Sanctuary Art Committee will hang over the baptistry. There will be a time for congregational feedback after worship on May 26. Written feedback to the committee is most appreciated. Email it to me at jim@labcoakland.org or mail it to the attention of the Sanctuary Art Committee at the church address.

Please join Dashiel and me in the June 2 Hunger Walk. Sign up in the Narthex.

From July 21-26 I will be the speaker at the Annual Pacific Redwoods Family Camp sponsored by Journey Farthest Out at the Mount Toyon Conference Grounds in Aptos. There are brochures in the Narthex. I would be honored if you would consider attending. Contact Dave or Sheryl Gattey for further information. The camp website is www.jfocamp.com

The Forum this Sunday will be a youth led discussion on the music of our faith.