A Clouded Pentecost

I have always liked preaching on Pentecost. That day when the wind of God’s spirit blew life into God’s people. The arrival of Pentecost this year has been eerily  different. Living near the epicenter of violence surrounding George Floyd’s death by police,  cast a pall of emotions over every aspect of life. My Facebook pages are filled with stories of grief, pain, bewilderment, conspiracy  theories, and rumors.  Meanwhile communities, grieving injustice, were further violated by the destruction of neighborhood stores, community centers and libraries.

Organized looting and burning was evident, as people reported anarchist symbols put on buildings that had been set on fire. A woman told of begging some white men who came into their residential neighborhood to leave and not set fires because of the children and the elderly in their community.  Caches of flammable fluids have been found hidden near sites of burning and  other potential targets.

On Friday night, police and the National Guard were overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of protesters. People throwing Molotov cocktails dashed into the cover of the crowd after setting fires. Stolen cars without license plates, blacked out windows and filled with rocks were stopped. Guns including AR15’s, narcotics, and flammable liquids were discovered. At a traffic stop of one such car today, the driver lept out, poured gas on the car and attempted to set it on fire.

Daytimes have been filled with peaceful protests at the painful and unjust death of George Floyd. Nights had been filled with violence. By last night, the entire Minnesota National Guard had been called up to bring order and to stop people bent on evil.  Finally there was a night of relative peace.

Grief runs deep. Emotions are raw and when the unexpected happens, we leap to a conclusion of malevolence. As happened today, when a person drove a tanker truck into a crowd of thousands on a closed highway. That no one was seriously injured falls into the category of miracle.

On  this strange Pentecost,  I see the winds of God’s spirit blow through people who have  marched demanding . . . that this must never happen again. The winds have blown as people come to clean neighborhoods of last weeks destruction. The winds have filled spontaneous collection centers with food, diapers, baby formula, cleaning supplies and volunteers to coordinate everything.

The winds of Pentecost still blow, asking us to open our hearts, to hear our neighbors cry for justice, to stand for righteousness and to be a people transformed by love.

“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.” Romans 12:9-13