Sermon given on Pentecost, May 31, 2020 at St. Philip the Deacon Episcopal Church, Portland Oregon.
The Rev’d Maria Gwyn McDowell preaching.

Note: What I wrote below and what I said aren’t quite the same. Read if you want, but listen too.

The Spirit troubled the waters, and new life erupted forth. New life is eruption. It isn’t peaceful, it isn’t calm. It breaks through. Seeds crack as a shoot bursts forth. Dirt is shoved aside. Human life is born amidst pain and blood and water.

We are troubled, and we live in troubled times, and maybe that trouble is the Spirit, moving, shaking, wandering, cracking open our illusions and prejudices, exposing our insides so that new life can burst forth.

The chaos we see around us, that is how change happens. The Reverend Martin Luther King, whether he liked it or not, lived in a world with Malcolm X and Huey Long. Austin Channing Brown reminded all of us that there was no one kind of troubling the waters that brought about the changes of the Civil Rights movement, no matter how we smooth over the history. Change is troubling. The weeds of hate and injustice, of prejudice and racism must be pushed aside, plucked out, for new life to erupt forth.

We resist change, that new life, because it is uncomfortable, it stretches us. Growing pains never cease in the reign of God. They never cease because we are called to be more kind, more loving, more faithful, more prophetic, more joyful, more sad, more hopeful.

New life is beautiful. What comes forth never looks like it did at the beginning. Who looks at a small, hard, dark seed and sees a sunflower. Who looks at a tadpole and sees a beautiful, 6’ 6” black man? Birth may happen in blood and pain and water but it is beautiful and full of joy. It is beautiful when we all live together in unity. Hope is beautiful. The snippets of faith and love we have all been privileged to see, they are beautiful.

We are allowed to grieve, to be fearful, to wait and pray in our rooms as we wait for someone to accompany, to speak to us. But the Spirit that comes is a spirit that troubles the waters of our contentment, of our complacency, of our grief, sadness and despair. It is a Spirit that advocates to us for the presence of God in the world. So, filled with the Spirit, we are called to go out, to trouble the waters, to trouble the world, all for the common good of those around us.

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