Pentecost on the Train
By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin of Walnut Creek, CA, USA
God is calling for a prophetic community to emerge, drawn from the nations of the world, that is characterized by uncommon devotion to the compassion and peace of God revealed in Jesus Christ. Through divine grace and wisdom, this faith community has been given abundant gifts, resources, and opportunities to equip it to become such a people. Chief among these is the power of community in Christ expressed locally in distinctive fashions while upholding a unity of vision, foundational beliefs, and mission throughout the world. There are many issues that could easily consume the time and energy of the church. However, the challenge before a prophetic people is to discern and pursue what matters most for the journey ahead. -Doctrine and Covenants 163:11
To bear this blessing,
you must first take yourself
to a place where everyone
does not look like you
or think like you,
a place where they do not
believe precisely as you believe,
where their thoughts
and ideas and gestures
are not exact echoes
of your own.
-Jan Richardson, “This Grace That Scorches Us,”
I was disappointed to miss church on Pentecost Sunday, but with cousins in town whom I rarely see, I knew that spending those precious few hours with them that day was most important. As we prepared to spend the day in San Francisco, I felt the nudge to create church at home before we left. I grabbed a candle in a colorful, glass mosaic vase, a Bible, and a blessing by Jan Richardson.
We sat on the ground and read the Pentecost text together as family, lit the candle, and entered a period of silence as we watched the light reflecting on the various colors, a Pentecost symbol in my own living room. Then we read the blessing and scrambled out the door to make our train. Once we settled in our seats, I began to look at all the people surrounding us. There was a race downtown that day, and our train was filled with people from diverse cultures and backgrounds, some dressed in silly costumes as they prepared to come together to run through the city.
As I gazed around the train at the richness of human diversity fully on display, I remembered the words of the blessing we had just read, “To bear this blessing, you must first take yourself to a place where everyone does not look like you or think like you.” I felt waves of Spirit Presence in the crowd surrounding us as I listened to conversations in multiple languages and felt the joy of different people coming together in common purpose.
The power of the Pentecost story is that it doesn’t happen in a crowd of like-minded people, but occurs precisely with those gathered in their diversity. Even though I missed being with my sacred community that Sunday, I found sacred community with my neighbors as we left the train and watched the crowds of people gathering in the city. May we have the courage to bear the Pentecost blessing by risking encounter with others who are different from ourselves.
Spirit, now live in me.
Breathe deeply and enter a few minutes of silence. Be attentive to where you sense new life emerging in you. Search your memories of the previous day. When did you notice the sacredness of life in surprising places or forms in the world around you?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
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