Year A - Pentecost or Energy to Witness
June 8, 2014
Shavuot, Seven Weeks from Passover, plus a day, brings us to 50-cost (no not 50 Cent) or Pentecost. Jesus people are together in a room. Jewish people are together in Jerusalem to celebrate the cloud and flame on Mt. Sinai during the reception of the 10 Words.
The 10 Commandments define a community. Here is what we are and what we are not. On this day of remembrance we hear an additional emphasis upon community. The play here is from words coming to the people to the people go forth with a word.
There is joy and danger in this democratization of the hierarchical Moses story. A joy comes in claiming the power of G*D deeds, to put them in our own mouths. A danger comes in losing the particulars and making them into an individual's claim of authority. While it can feel good to claim a part in G*D’s deeds by naming them, it is easy to have this go to our heads, to become drunk on assumed power—to claim dominion.
Pentecost doesn’t just take place in a closed room or between people, it occurs in the context of a larger history. From one perspective it is a continued usurpation of the Jewish experience of G*D with cherry-picked and oh so subtle modification of the Hebrew scriptures. It is no coincidence that a 50-day variant on Jubilee and challenge to Moses happened when it did. Consider how “deeds of power” trump specific communal behaviors. It is a similar process to what Fox News does in todays’ media with their emphasis upon individual rights and losing touch with communal responsibility.