by | May 23, 2023

In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.

Acts 2:17

Welcome to the first MMU in the post-Ally era. If you get this, that means that I (with Ally’s help) have managed to put together the newsletter and send it out. I confess that when Ally told me she was moving back to Georgia, one of my first task-related concerns was this key communications vehicle. As a staff we considered cutting back on the frequency, but Ally reported that on average 58% of the recipients actually click through to open it, which is a very high rate, so we will try to stay current every week. I believe that we are about to welcome a new staff member who will help make this happen, so I continue to thank God for providing for our ministries.

In the meantime, we do what we can. And it is helpful to me that I have been able to dwell on Jesus’ ascension, when he promises great power to the disciples as he leaves their physical presence. I say physical because, of course, Jesus also promised to be with the disciples—and so we live in the presence of Christ: in spirit, in the gathered body, at the communion table, as we encounter the least of Christ’s family.

Indeed, we are blessed in San Gabriel Presbytery with experiencing Christ’s presence in our life together. I have commented on the gifts of new members, and I’ve shared with other presbyteries how we also learn of the incredible giftedness of our current active members, especially as we find out how our ruling elders and members do God’s work in their “day jobs.” I continue to marvel at the wisdom and dedication of our retirees, who are a constant source of encouragement for me and many others.

Of course, we cannot become complacent, and we must not settle for huddling in our own upper rooms, afraid to encounter the wider world. The Holy Spirit came into that house where Jesus’ friends stayed, and gave them power—all of them—far beyond what was expected of their social status. The Holy Spirit came in and made a spectacle of them, so much that they attracted the attention of the Pentecost celebrants outside. And as usually happens when we become spectacular, some may mock us and doubt us, and some will be intrigued and attracted—and we don’t get to decide who.

As we give thanks for the gifts of our current body, we are encouraged with new friends and those who might be peeking in at us. At last week’s meeting of the Justice Peacemaking and Mission Committee, we were discussing how our churches serve others who are in need of shelter and other services, and new member Kevin Haah gently suggested that we need not assume that only people outside our churches could use some help. And our Representation reports give encouraging numbers on racial diversity in our leadership, but we greatly lack the presence of younger generations, as well as those who are differently abled. It’s entirely possible that our young people are seeing visions and prophesying, just as we know that our older family members are dreaming dreams. The question is, how do we attract their attention, and listen with courage to their prophetic voices, confident that God is speaking through them?

There are a few opportunities coming up this summer that will allow us to expand our welcome, and listen to new voices and new dreams:

  • June 17, 9 am—lunch: our next Presbytery meeting will be in-person at Eagle Rock Presbyterian Church, 4848 Eagle Rock We will have a short meeting in the first hour, and then spend the morning in our annual Day of Service. This year, in addition to general cleaning and putting together hygiene kits for patients being released without shelter from LA General Medical Center (aka LAC+USC Medical Center), you can choose to learn from David Newsom of Wild Yards Project and work on their native plants demonstration garden on the church campus, or consult with Making Housing and Community Happen about utilizing church property to support the community. You can click here to register for the meeting. At the bottom of the form you can now give in advance for the June Presbytery offering, which will go to Friends in Deed Pasadena, who actively serves and partners with neighbors needing help with food, shelter, and for women a daytime respite and resource center.
  • June 30-July 4: Wendy Gist and Via International have planned a short visit to Tijuana and San Diego, that we may meet with folks from Latin America and beyond who are seeking asylum in the United States. Via International is a non-profit doing wonderful work on both sides of the border with community organizing, self-development opportunities, shelter, nutrition programs, and other life-giving work. You can find information here which includes links to register. We are asking that you register by May 30.
  • There are several ministry opportunities open right now, to lead worship at Knox in Pasadena, work with children and youth at Calvary in South Pasadena, and help lead the Presbytery as part- time Stated Find more information in the “Job Opportunities” column of today’s Monday Morning Update.

At times like these, and as we look ahead to the Day of Pentecost, there are a few things that we must remember about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not sit still, but is constantly moving—and rather than try to hold on to what was, we are asked to enjoy and fill our sails with the breath of God. The Holy Spirit does give us power to proclaim Christ’s life-giving love to a hurting world, not just to ourselves, and we can be bold to claim and utilize that power, to the glory of God. Indeed, and most importantly, the Holy Spirit is holy—unpredictable and uncontrollable, sometimes bewildering, but emanating from God who knows and loves better than we can understand or create for ourselves.

Now to God who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.                                                                       Ephesians 3:20-21

Happy Pentecost!