Can our days of remembering also become days of imagining? Can our days of looking back also become days of looking forward with new eyes because of the clarity of what is behind us. This weekend was a good time to look back to remember, but also to look forward and envision. This looking back and imagining forward started on Sunday, Pentecost, with the birth of the church. I think that Pentecost is a story of imagination, not because it didn't happen, but because it did. The birth of the church was not the result of careful planning, organization, activities, and launch dates. The birth of the church was an event of the Holy Spirit, where a small group of disciples became the leaders of a large group of followers through the intervention of the Holy Spirit. They started off the day small, scared, and hiding in a room and ended the day with a public witness that is still working through the DNA of the world. And let's please not forget the end of the story, the rest of the chapter of Acts 2 where the disciples accomplished something in their small corner of the world that rock start and celebrities are talking about today. They eliminated poverty. Not through donations and charity, but through their imaginations as they shared everything that they had and nobody was in need.
So where are our imaginations today? Where is our vision of a Spirit filled kingdom of God that was started on the day of Pentecost? I ask because there are days where I feel like we are further away from that vision, not closer. Days like Sunday where I was reading different bulletin inserts about Pentecost. One of them had a summary of Pentecost that said, "they were so moved by the Holy Spirit that they began to worship together on a regular basis, especially on Sundays." Ignoring the factual errors in this statement, there is more importantly a huge loss of the imagination of Pentecost. I hope that we don't see the most important part of the birth of the church that people now worship together on Sundays. We would be ignoring the sharing of cultures and understanding that came from speaking so many different languages. We would be ignoring the sharing of property and the community of having enough that has in the past and hopefully will in the future be one of the marks of the Christian way of life. I hope that we can open up our imaginations so that our celebration of Pentecost does not become just a time to have birthday cake in the church, but is a time to remember how the Holy Spirit can move and invite us to still be moving in those ways today.
It is with this view that we move into another day of remembering. Monday was Memorial Day, a day of remembering brave American soldiers who served their country, especially many who never got a chance to do anything but serve their country because they died in service. When we hit Monday I was still looking through the lens of Sunday and it was not necessarily an easy view. It was another day where I hope our looking back and remembering can be something that spurs on our imagination for the future. I posted on my Facebook wall a picture of a very good friend of mine because that is who I remember on days like Memorial Day. However, even this picture brought up a contrast that I could not shake. The day of Pentecost started with the disciples huddled in a room, probably a little afraid because their leader was the victim of a state sponsored execution by a foreign occupying force. This image clashes with the image of a cross on the tomb of a solider. It is hard for me to reconcile the two. It is especially hard when I think about the person that I remember on Memorial Day, because he was not completely defined by his job as a solider. He was so much more than that. However, I cannot shake the idea that praying for soldiers of war to protect our freedom to worship a Prince of Peace represents a lack of imagination on our part. That we misplace our confidence and misunderstand what type of freedom God has for us when we become his children. I cannot shake the idea that soldiers and disciples were similar in their willingness to die for their believes, many American soldiers and almost all of the original disciples died for what they believed in. They were also, however, different in that one group was not willing to kill for their beliefs and the other one was. I am not convinced that this is the imagination that the Holy Spirit hoped to bring to the world on that day of Pentecost so long ago.
So let me wrap up by calling for a day of imagination today, Tuesday, May 29. On Sunday we were able to remember Pentecost and the birth of the church through the Holy Spirit. On Monday America celebrated Memorial Day and the remembrance of soldiers who served their country. Now that we have looked back. Now that we have remembered and hopefully honored all children of God that held strong convictions of their beliefs. How can we move forward? How can we take the lessons that we have learned and the things we have experienced and move forward into a new place of imagination of the spirit. Can we remember all casualties of war, not just American soldiers, but innocent children and not so innocent enemies whom I hope we would say are still creations of God just like you and me. Maybe this will make us less likely to go to war, creating fewer fallen soldiers to remember. Let’s create a new holiday, to acknowledge the past, but to celebrate a future. May it be marked by an imagination of the spirit that allows us the understanding of others that comes with speaking their language and a peace that comes with an end to poverty through a sharing of what we have. As we continue on in life may the images of our celebrations confuse less and less and bring harmonious love more and more.