A friend of mine named Ann in Asheville, N.C., shared something on Facebook the other day that grabbed me.
She shared a meditation written in a church newsletter about Pentecost by Karen Cavagnini, a woman involved with ministry at Asheville’s Haywood Street Congregation.
Haywood is a United Methodist mission congregation and faith-based nonprofit founded in 2009 by Rev. Brian Combs, a man who apparently stretched waaay out of his comfort zone to serve our Lord.
Judging from the non-profit’s web page and what my friend Ann has told me, Haywood is a vibrant and interesting Christian community.
“Those who eat and worship together at Haywood Street are individuals carrying all their worldly possessions in ragged backpacks as well as privileged professionals, stay-at-home moms, students and the working poor,” the web page notes.
“The core programs provide a platform for the ministry of relationship, which can be defined simply as the act of “being with” and speaks to our deepest identity. It contrasts with doing for’ and requires spending time together, talking and listening, serving and being served, giving and receiving. It forms the basis for our unique and transformative companion ministry.”
What follows is the powerful reflection about “Pentecosting” that the aforementioned Ms. Cavagnini wrote for the Haywood Street newsletter that I saved to share here today–which is Pentecost Sunday–with some slight editing.
And go here to learn more about Pentecost, sometimes called “the birthday of the church.”
It’s based on this scripture in Acts 2.
Holy Spirit. Breath of God. God’s own life with us and in us.
Sometimes I am flooded with a sense of amazement that the same Spirit of God that hovered over the waters of darkness and chaos before bringing creation into being … and the same Spirit of God that breathed life through the patriarchs, prophets, apostles and martyrs … the same breath of God that poured into the lives of John the Baptist and Mary … and the breath of God’s Spirit that came to life in the miracles and teachings and total self giving of his son, Jesus … that very same Spirit is with me and in me and empowers me the same way it empowered his followers as they fearfully waited together in one room at the original Pentecost. Wow!
This breath of God pouring out into my life is so very beautiful when I am with my Haywood Street community.
I recently encountered the idea of Pentecost being a verb, not a noun. ‘Pentecosting.’
I love this. I encounter Pentecost every time I am here at Haywood Street. This week was no different. There was a lot of ‘Pentecosting’ going on!
I saw the breath of God weave its way through the hospitality room as I witnessed a beautiful exchange of forgiveness and healing. After a very heated argument, two Friends reached out to the other and asked for forgiveness from and offered forgiveness to the other person. They shook hands. The Spirit of mercy, healing and reconciliation flowed through my friends.
The breath of God poured into me as I welcomed a friend I had not seen for several months and who had recently been on my mind. I felt this Spirit as I met some new friends who were experiencing Holy Chaos for the first time. I talked with a friend who had just received the news that she was getting housing. She shared her gratitude for the chance for a fresh start.
I watched talented hair stylists and artists share their gifts with many friends. The Spirit of encounter, connection, friendship and transformation flowed through the room.
I also felt the breath of God in the prayer room. Several friends came in to share heavy burdens. Our prayer ministers lovingly welcomed them in to this sacred space. They gently offered our friends some much needed moments of quiet and support. The importance of just being still was recognized and the silent and beautiful gift of presence was offered to our friends experiencing the cross in such challenging ways.
Friends shared the Spirit within them as they in turn offered prayers for our prayer ministers and for each other. I was moved by the Spirit of gentleness, compassion, presence and courage.
‘Pentecosting’ happens all the time at Haywood Street. It happens in every ministry week after week. It is an ongoing pouring out of the life and breath and action of God into our community.
Come, Holy Spirit! Breathe your life into us. Breathe in your Spirit of acceptance, of belovedness, of worth, of compassion, of presence, of oneness.
May you sense the Breath of God all around and within you this week!