May 28, 2023 Sermon ‘Chippie and the Vacuum Cleaner’
Rev Jane Courtright
Recently, I ran across a story about a woman & her parakeet Chippie!
It seems that the woman was cleaning Chippie’s cage with the long hose
of her canister vacuum when the phone rang. She reached over to get the phone.
As she did, she heard the unmistakable sound…you guessed it….
of Chippie being sucked up into the vacuum!
She rushed over to the vacuum, pulled out the vacuum bag & ripped it open!
There she found Chippie, totally stunned, but still alive. Since the bird was now
covered with dust and dirt, she grabbed him and ran into the bathroom,
held him under the faucet and washed him in freezing cold water
to get all the gook off. Then she used her hair dryer to dry Chippie off!
She was talking to a neighbor a few weeks later about what had happened.
Naturally, the neighbor asked how the bird was doing. “Well,” said the woman,
“Chippie doesn’t sing so much anymore. He just sort of sits on his perch & stares.
I think that Chippie’s reaction to what had happened was probably about the same
as the reaction of the disciples in the weeks following Jesus’ death.
They were most likely stunned! I’m sure they wondered, “What next?!
Will it be just hours before the Romans arrest us? Where do we go from here?”
Silent Night, Holy Night, all is silent, all is bright….had for them, changed to
Silent Night, Hopeless Night, all is devastated, all is blight!
The hours following Jesus’ death were like walking on eggshells
It was touch and go. And yes, many thoughts were in the minds of those disciples!
What happened at that high festival time in Jerusalem that you just heard
from Acts, chapter 2, was so dramatic: when the Holy Spirit or breath of God
came upon the disciples. Though they many have forgotten it in their confusion
or fear, Jesus had promised the disciples that when he was gone, there
would be a comforter to walk with them on their journeys.
We human can no more live fully without this Spirit than we can live
without breath. No wonder that these two word are both translated
from the Greek word pneuma.
Which brings me to Peter! One of the most dramatic things that happened
on that Pentecost Day was the change in the disciple named Peter.
Starting with his sermon in today’s reading, Peter was influential around
the early church. Peter was one who became a true leader of the Jerusalem church.
But Peter was not always the tower of strength you hear about
in today’s passage and in the forming of the early church!
When we first meet Peter in the gospels, he is anything but good & stable!
He was emotional, impulsive, erratic…Peter was stubborn & had a bad temper!
This is pretty much the person Jesus first met.
Yep, the old Simon Peter was surely an illustration of St. Paul’s words:
“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Something obviously happened
Between the time of Peter’s beginning with Jesus and the tower
of faith and strength we see him as in the book of Acts!
Could it be that as we grow and experience pain, emptiness, hopelessness
and feel cut off like Peter must have felt as he had denied Jesus three times
….that God starts breathing, God starts spiriting? Or perhaps we are more
open to the Spirit at these times. Because of this, Peter got all he needed
to make a difference in the lives other people.
This power of God, this Spirit, breathed into Peter, & Peter that uneducated
Fisherman, stood up and gave the speech we heard a few minutes ago –
The speech of his life! It’s as though he open his mouth & the words tumble out!
That Holy Spirit is inside of every human being…it is there for us to tap into.
That Holy Spirit is STILL powerful. There is an immense potential inside
each one of us – to move mountains, to do the impossible, to be given
a moment (or more) to be more than we can be. To become glorious
ourselves, as Jesus said.
We can tap into that power and use it for ourselves and for humanity.
So, what’s the problem? Well….tapping into God’s power means
giving up control!
You see, those of us who want to tap into the power, that force, can no
longer be the ones looking on, observing, pretending we don’t understand
to get along. No, we have to give up control, hand it over to God,
be ready and willing. Then, we can wait for unexpected, amazing,
Powerful things to happen! MAY THE FORCE BE WITH US! Amen.