Posts Tagged: "Italy"

Pentecost Reveals Jesus always delivers on his promises, an evolving faith, an inclusive faith, a broad and diverse faith on purpose, a bridge-building faith, an empowering, liberating, and justice-delivering faith

NOTE: the following are my word-for-word notes from Pentecost Sunday’s sermon.

Here we are… Sunday, May 28. Memorial Day weekend…

the unofficial start of Summer!

I’ve been counting down something else… my daughter’s wedding. She’s getting married in 35 days.

Yo, people, Ima need lots of love. Big hugs. And gift cards. Joking. Not really.

Staying with the countdown theme…

It’s been 50 days of Easter, 50 days of celebrating our Savior’s resurrection. Over the course of these weeks, we’ve been looking at the conversations, interactions, and encounters Jesus had with his friends and followers over these post-resurrection days before his ascension.

Last Sunday was Ascension Sunday.

Today, a week later, it’s Pentecost.

Penta- means 50.

50 days

Christ has been risen for 50 days. Christ ascended into the heavenly realm – the Kingdom of God, to the heavenly throne where he rules and reigns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Before his ascension, Jesus had instructed his friends and followers to go to Jerusalem and wait for the promised Holy Spirit.

Here’s what happened next:

Acts 2

1 On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place.

2 Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting.

3 Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. 4 And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

5 At that time there were those from every nation living in Jerusalem. 6 When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.

7 They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee, 8 and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages!

9 Here we are—Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia,

10 Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome                                                                     

11a (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans, and Arabs.

11b And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!” 12 They stood there amazed and perplexed. “What can this mean?” they asked each other. 13 But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying, “They’re just drunk, that’s all!

14 Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, “Listen carefully, all of you, friends and residents of Jerusalem! Make no mistake about this.

15 These people are not drunk, as some of you are assuming. Nine o’clock in the morning is much too early for that. 16 No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel:

17 ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.

18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike—and they will prophesy. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

The Word of God, for the People of God, Thanks Be to God.

First, I want to mention something rather obvious, but important nonetheless… maps and borders and the names of places and nations change over time. Many of the places people were from that are mentioned in Acts chapter 2 are no longer called those same names. So, here’s the same list updated to reflect the maps we use today:

Iran / Iraq / Syria / Italy / Palestine / Turkey / Egypt / Libya / Saudi Arabia

These modern-day countries are in the following regions:

Western Asia / The Middle East / Europe / Africa

I guess what I’m saying here is that the crowds in Jerusalem when God’s promise was delivered were incredibly diverse. Many different languages, cultures, experiences, and backgrounds are represented… all gathered together.

All hearing in their own languages and dialects.

Listen: God speaks and understands ALL THE LANGUAGES. God enjoys all the spices. And all the beats. All of the sounds and all of the flavors!

The One who created this diverse and beautiful world also loves and understands all its complexity, nuance, and variation.

God is not color blind. God is color brave. And we’re God’s kids, so we can be the same. Amen.

John Bell, the Scottish minister, hymn writer, and Iona community member has said:

“You must realize that your life is not the only significant life in the world. By calling a community together like this, you begin to understand that God—who made us all in God’s image—has this amazing ability to create great diversity in humanity. One of our supreme joys should be just talking with other folk—unlikely folk. If we only mix with people of our own sort, then we miss so much about life’s great beauty.”

Um-hum. That’s right. Not blind, but brave. Amen.

So, here’s what Pentecost reveals to us…

#1. Our faith is in Jesus—who always delivers on his promises.

Jesus told his friends to wait in Jerusalem for the promise. Pentecost reveals we can always depend on the promises of God.

Jesus promised to never leave us nor forsake us. Jesus promised the gift of God’s Holy Spirit to come, be with us, empower us, dwell within us, abide…

You see, the promises of God are Yes and Amen. What God promises—is good, what God promises—is good for us. What God promises—God is good to deliver. Always. And forever.

Let me remind you of just a few of God’s promises…… Read More

Saving Quotes

* pictured above: the town of Assisi, Italy —July 2013

I save quotes. In my phone. On my computer. Folders of them. Ever-growing, constantly adding.

And there are times when I need them. When all the world seems to be busting apart at the seams, all hell breaking loose. When my peace has run away like a dog terrified of the fireworks on the 4th of July.

I save quotes. But sometimes they save me.

I’d love to share some… saving quotes.


The Saint Francis Prayer:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is… Read More

When Doves Cry

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Pigeon friend of mine, fly on, sing on. —Carl Sandburg

Last weekend in Maple Valley my family and I walked from the farmer’s market back home – through a neighborhood – and while we were walking, I could hear a distinct sound. One we’ve all probably heard before. It wasn’t loud, but it was present.

Like a subtle soundtrack. Music to set the scene. And yet it seemed unusual. A bit out of place or context. For a moment I tried to place the sound. And then I realized what it was…

The gentle cooing of doves.

Which did seem odd to me. Are there doves here?

My last experience with… Read More

I Want To Be Like Tommaso, Not Ikea

My family has been on a “Tiny House” TV show watching-kick for a while. The latest variation of this sort we’re especially loving is called Tiny House World. We watched an episode the other night – it was set in Rome, which had us even more intrigued as we’ve been there a couple times.

Tommaso Garavini, the co-founder and co-owner of Rota-Lab (a furniture design and manufacturing company in Italy) was looking for an apartment in the heart of Rome, something around 300 square feet. The show gave brief glimpses of his shop and handiwork. You could tell Tommaso is a… Read More

Identifiably Strange (An Excerpt)

I wrote a book, which is coming out this month. The following is an excerpt…


Recently, while spending a month living in the Italian countryside, I was constantly aware of how much we stood out.

Our strangeness was completely obvious to the locals…

All three of us have blue eyes and pale skin.

We talk like cowboys. I never thought I sounded like a cowboy before, but after hearing an Italian say… Read More