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A Bible study for Pentecost Sunday

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by Pah, Aug 15, 2006.

  1. Pah

    Pah Uber all member

    Jun 2, 2004
    Out In Scripture

    It is asked, that prior to reading the commentary, these biblical passages be read.
    Acts 2:1-21; Ezekiel 37:1-14; Psalms 104:24-34; Romans 8:22-27; and John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15

    Acts 2:1-21 dramatically portrays the story at the heart of Pentecost Sunday. The passage celebrates the movement of the Spirit to birth an inclusive Christian movement. The church depicted here welcomes as beloveds of God those once considered strangers, even enemies of God. Time and again, the church has been transformed by outsiders, first by non-Galilean Jews, then by Gentiles and in our own time, by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

    How is the encounter with LGBT people transforming church and society?

    On Pentecost many of the devout insiders who heard Peter’s message were shocked that God’s Spirit was being poured out “upon all flesh” (Acts 2:17) just as some contemporary Christians refuse to accept that LGBT people of faith are being empowered by the Spirit to claim their rightful place in church and society. However, that first Pentecost the outsiders (Acts 2:9-11) heard the message loud and clear even though they did not hear it in Peter’s language. Rather, they heard and received the good news within their own cultural language and context.

    What’s the good news today for the LGBT community, and how do we hear it within our context and our own language?

    Read Ezekiel 37:1-14. Many a pastor is used to preaching to old, dried-out bones, both figuratively and literally (Ezekiel 37:1-3). For LGBT people, our bones have seen hard times and are dried out from oppression and the ongoing warfare against our bodies and spirits. Countless numbers are closeted in “graves” while hoping for the day of putting on new flesh and coming out from the grave.

    The good news is that the Spirit liberates and brings new life to those who have been buried in pain and grief and left for dead (Ezekiel 37:12-14). Even old, worn-out arguments and useless debates can be transformed into life-giving messages, embodied in acts of justice and compassion that offer hope, respect and encouragement.

    Where do LGBT people and our allies experience new life among “old bones”?

    God stands ready to fill open hands in Psalms 104:24-34. Without God’s breath, all hope is dead (Psalms 104:29). Therefore, any liberation is found and centered on a God ready to stand on the side of justice so as to create a new thing. When there is justice as right relationship between persons, creation and God — people have cause to rejoice!

    What gives LGBT people and our allies reason to rejoice?

    With the birth of any new creation, there is pain and “groaning in labor” (Romans 8:22). Romans 8:22-27 declares that for pain and suffering to be productive, it must aim at wholeness and liberation. Creative labor produces “the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23) renewal for individuals and for communities.

    It is the Spirit that helps us in our weakness during this protracted birthing process (Romans 8:26-27). The Spirit’s encouragement is welcome because we live constantly in the struggle, catching glimpses here and there of justice and new life, but also encountering much resistance and many obstacles. Even though LGBT people and our allies trust that justice is on our side and that new life is about to emerge in the world, the moment of delivery is both “soon” and “far off.” Many of us feel that tension deeply and “groan in travail,” hoping against hope.

    For what new life in our world do you long and groan for? For what do you hope?

    In John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15, Jesus promises to send the Spirit, the Advocate of truth, so that we will not be alone. For those who become new creations, this good news is that the Spirit overcomes the forces of this world which attempt to keep the oppressed silent, repressed, closeted or in despair (John 16:8-9). Those once dried-out and crushed bones that took on flesh, through Christ’s Spirit, can now find the hope and strength to truly be a new creation in the here and now, not just in the hereafter. As theologian James B. Nelson writes in The Intimate Connection, “If we do not know the gospel in our bodies, we may not know it at all.”

    How do you give praise to God in your body? How is God’s Spirit evident in your body?