June 8, 2014 – Saint John’s Episcopal Church, Memphis Tennessee 38111

And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. Acts 2:1 NRSV

The Day of Pentecost – El Greco

The Great 50 days are ended, the double alleluias are spent, and long months of Sundays stretch out toward Advent. However, the Great 50 days go out, not with a whimper but with a bang.


Forty days after his resurrection, Jesus left town, going out by Bethany, so as to go by one of his favorite places one more time. Jesus left town, not going to Galilee as he did through his life in the flesh, but going home, returning to God the Father. He blessed his disciples and as he did he was separated from them and ascended into heaven.


They stared, slack jawed, gaping at the sky until angels shooed them back to town reminding them that they were to wait until the Comforter came upon them – and for once they did as they were told.

Consciously waiting, hanging on to the promise of Jesus, “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”

This comforter is come. This comforter will lead us into all truth. This comforter, how shall we describe his work?

The Comforter, this Holy Spirit is

  • Playful,
  • Spontaneous
  • Creative

I quote Alan Jones, Sometime Dean of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, “The Spirit is present in three open spaces in our lives. In the:

  • unpredictable,
  • place of risk
  • areas over which we have no control.

The Spirit of Truth, this Holy Spirit works behind the scenes, promoting Jesus, pointing to his teaching but doing it behind the scenes. Notice what happens when I place the characteristics of the Holy Spirit into the Open Spaces in our lives?


The unpredictable may prove dangerous, but it may also prove playful. The Holy Spirit is playful. For example check out the Psalm for today – [Pew Bible pg. 547 BCP – pg. 737]

Psalm 104

26 Yonder is the great and wide sea
With its living things too many
to number, creatures both
small and great.
27 There move the ships, and there
is that Leviathan, which you
have made for the sport of it.

Whales in Hervery bay

Whales in Hervey bay

God made the whale just for fun.

Fr. Craig Bustrin, “The Whale is God’s Rubber Ducky.”


Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. – Helen Keller

Let us, before this Day in 2015, strain to hear God’s spontaneous call, as the Spirit moves, broods in the risky places of life, of Memphis. Let this Day one year hence find us doing something we would never have dreamed possible.  The Spirit moves in the risky places.


The Holy Spirit brooded over the waters of Chaos.  For many years I have observed this in Alcoholics Anonymous = what can’t be controlled, or be willed into being true, CAN by surrendering to the Holy One most present in that very place, brings that very thing into being. It’s called recovery.  The Holy Spirit is perhaps most creative in the places over which we have no control.
I want to tell you a story.

I want to speak to you this morning of a man I know.
He has doctorate in Music Composition
He is a single-minded Christian
He is faithful
He smokes too much
He is legally blind

I have known him for the better part of ten years.  At the altar rail, he asked for prayers. He has the charism of servant, he is thoughtful, he is committed, he is prayerful, He walks a lot – He knows the people of these neighbors around Saint John’s. He knows us who are educated and live a reasonable facsimile of what passes for the post-modern American dream. He knows those who live below this level on less. He knows the community of the street, those whose place we pass through on the way to the rest of our lives.

Our way is their place.

Let me tell you what he means to me. He is single minded, A mostly-blind man is teaching me about life beyond my air-conditioned bubble with wheels that takes me through the streets and insulates me from them by isolating me from them and moving me quickly through them.

Let me tell you what I discern he means to this parish. If we went to hell it will because we were too busy to make other arrangements. He prays for the rest of us who do not have enough to pray for ourselves.

Mark has allowed none of his limitations to define him. What I call limitations, I suspect the Holy Spirit calls opportunities. These are the very places he has opened to God. These are the open places where the Holy Spirit is working in him and through him to do the Work of Christ in this place. To do the work of Christ is our task, Doing the work of Christ is Mark’s vocation. Why? Because he is baptized!



Sugar is made up of three molecules – oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon. Where is the sweetness? The sweetness is in the relationship. It is not a quality in any element of sugar. It is an emergent quality that resides only in the system as a whole. The sweetness is not in any one of us. The sweetness is in the molecular cohesiveness of the Holy Spirit.

The Spontaneous, Creative & Playful nature of the Holy Spirit is busy in the open spaces in Mark’s life and ours to make the sweetness of Grace

The sweetness of this grace is why today I name Mark Bradshaw, Street Missioner from Saint John’s Parish  Amen.

2 thoughts on “PENTECOST

  1. Thank you very much for this sermon. For some reason, I had been looking forward to Pentecost Sunday this year. I know that the hymns are particularly to my liking, and the sermon would bring and opportunity to reflect. I thought it was the previous week and was somewhat disappointed at the anticipation. So, I was certain to be front and center this Sunday. Your sermon did not disappoint. I truly appreciate and have taken action on the call to take a risk. Thank you.


  2. Pingback: The Spirit in Recovery | Process Not An Event

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