Sermon: Sunday, May 15, 2016: Day of Pentecost

The following sermon was preached by Pastor Erik Christensen & Pastor Liz Muñoz at the bilingual, ecumenical worship service held by St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Logan Square (ELCA) and Nuestra Señora de las Americas Episcopal Church on Sunday, May 15, 2016.

title845264485Recently I’ve begun reading the daily reflections of Father Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest in Albuquerque, New Mexico sent out by the Center for Action and Contemplation. This last week he began a new series on the relationship between action for justice in the world and the inner contemplative life. He quotes another American monastic, Thomas Merton, who wrote,

“[Those who attempt] to act and do things for others or for the world without deepening [their] own self-understanding, freedom, integrity, and capacity to love, will not have anything to give others. [They] will communicate to [others] nothing but the contagion of [their] own obsessions, [their] aggressiveness, [their] ego-centered ambitions, [their] delusions about ends and means, [their] doctrinaire prejudices and ideas.”

Writing to the church in Rome, the apostle Paul contrasts two different states of being: the spirit of adoption and the spirit of slavery. Far too often Christians try to spiritualize the concept of slavery so that it stands in for any irritating personal habit or private struggle. To do so is to erase the real experiences of those in Paul’s day and our own who are fighting a life and death struggle for existence against the powers and principalities of this world that treat human beings as commodities that can be used to enrich a very few and then thrown away.

To those who feel thrown away by this world, and to those held captive by the dream of wealth, Paul reminds us that “all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” (Rom. 8:14) Because the first step to liberation from the shackles of poverty and the false illusions of wealth takes place inside the self, when we can look at our own face in the mirror and say with a confidence we may not yet feel, “I am somebody.”


title406527677Antes de que esta tierra tenia forma, cuando todo er un mar profundo cubierta de oscuridad el Espiritu de Dios se movía sobre la superficie de las aguas. Este aliento de Dios, ruach en Hebreo, ha estado presente desde antes del comienzo de nuestra historia.

Fuente de toda creación y sabiduría nunca se ha mantenido indiferente a su bellas criaturas.  Los salmos elogian esta presencia en nuestra historia humana “si envías tu, Espiritu, tu aliento de vida, somos creados, y así renuevas el aspecto de la tierra” (Salmo 104:30).

Los profetas como Eliseo y Elias reconocían el poder de este espíritu. Se atrevían a profetizar y hacer milagros por medio del poder de este Espiritu (2 Reyes 2:9, 13-15). Cuando Moises no pudo mas con su carga el Espiritu compare su poder con los que son escogidos por el pueblo y con otros que no han sido escogidos por ese pueblo. Porque el Espíritu Santo no conoce limites (Números 11:17, 25-29).  Como Jesus dice en Juan  este Espiritu santo es como viento sopla donde quiere, y oyes su sonido, pero no sabes de dónde viene ni adónde va (Juan 3:8).

El Espiritu de Dios se movió entre esa primera generación de discípulos y se mueve en esta generación que encontramos en la lectura de Hechos. Desde el comienzo del tiempo el poder de ese Espiritu se mueve se siente en cada vision y hecho compassion y amor. Es un poder tan suave para sanar el alma herida y tan fuerte como para agitar y encender el corazón mujeres y hombres, jóvenes y viejos en todos los rincones del mundo para actuar en nombre de la paz y justicia de Dios.


title845264485To be “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4) and given a spirit of adoption (Rom. 8:15) makes us “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,” (v.17a) which sounds amazing — until we hear that word, “if.”  “If, in fact, we suffer with him, so that we may also be glorified with him.” (v. 17b)

“If” is conditional — if A then B. We feel set up. Are we only heirs if we suffer? Is suffering the condition for inheritance?

No. Suffering is the inheritance. Suffering is the consequence of being adopted by God and becoming “joint heirs” with Christ, which is another way of saying “sisters and brothers with Christ and, therefore, to one another.”

Suffering is the inheritance of love, as any parent will tell you. To love a child as they encounter all the hate and fear and misunderstanding that fills this world is a lesson in protracted suffering. God knows this suffering well, as God has both created us and adopted us (which, by the way, I love as a theological affirmation that God not only creates/births us, but then subsequently chooses/adopts us all over again. What do you think it would do for the state of interfaith dialogue if we replaced the phrase “chosen people” with the phrase “adopted people.” Would we hear it differently?).

To be adopted by God is to inherit what Jesus inherited as he came into the world — a family filled with suffering, a family that cries out for liberation from all the slaveries of this world. But a family! Which is what we are to one another whether we know it or not. Which is what we all are. Not the family which we were born into, which may have been wonderful, or may have been horrible, and was probably a bit of both. But God’s family, created by love and chosen for love, so that none of us might suffer alone.


title406527677Seguimos este camino, aunque sea difícil a veces parece imposible, porque es aliento Divino esta la promesa de verdad y vida. Seguimos ese camino porque no es verdad que este mundo y sus habitantes están condenados a morir y perderse en el vacío.

We follow the way, difficult, at times seemingly impossible, because that breath of God is where truth and life are found. We follow the way because it is not true that this world and its inhabitants are doomed to die and be lost in the void.

No es verdad  que la violencia y el odio tendrán la última palabra, y que la inhumanidad, la pobreza, la guerra y la destrucción han venido a quedarse para siempre.

It is not true that violence and hatred shall have the last word, and that inhumanity, poverty, war and destruction have come to stay forever.*

No es cierto que tenemos que esperar a los que están especialmente dotados que sean los profetas de la iglesia antes de que podamos hacer nada.

It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted to be the prophets of the church before we can do anything.*

Y por eso me atrevo a profetizar: nuestros sueños para la liberación de la humanidad, nuestros sueños de justicia, de dignidad humana, de la paz son para esta época y esta historia. Y nosotros y nosotras somos los que somos llamados por el Espiritu para encarnar el rugido de la justicia, la fiebre del amor, el susurro de la paz y la compasión, que lleva las palabras de esperanza y alegría a un mundo quebrantado y angustiado.

And so I dare to prophesy: our dreams for the liberation of humankind, our dreams of justice, of human dignity, of peace are meant for this time and this place in history.  We are the ones that are called by the Spirit to embody the rush of justice, the roar of love,the whisper of peace and compassion, that carries the words of hope and joy to a broken and grieving world,

Así que me atrevo a pedir que se atreven a compartir su sueño, visión y la profecía conmigo de los días de gracia del Señor para toda la creación.

So I dare to ask you to dare to dream, vision and prophesy day of the Lord’s favor will mean for all of creation.

Yo profetizo/I prophesy that…(Church responds)

Y todo el que invoque el nombre del Señor será salvo.

Y todo el que invoque el nombre del Señor será salvo

Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.


1.  Prayer adapted from prayer written by Alan Boesak found in Holy Ground: Liturgies and Worship Resources for an Engaged Spirituality, pg 65

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