“You Just Don’t Understand”- Seeking to understand rather than to be understood.

Pentecost Sunday Year A 2022

Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.—Amen.

“You just don’t understand”

These are words uttered by teenagers as they attempt to find their way in this world

Words said by young adults to an older generation

Words said by older generations to the younger ones

You just don’t understand.

We have all said these words and if we have not said them out loud, we have thought them at least once. “You just don’t understand my point of view, my position, my words, my actions, my heart, my desires and hopes… my—-fill in the blank”

For if we understood each other fully, we wouldn’t do half the of things that we do mindlessly.

If we sought to understand each other fully, we would listen with our hearts and hold out hands to each other rather than clenching our fists and digging in our heels.

Today in the book of Acts, we hear a “close encounter of the holy kind.”

Ten days ago, the disciples have just experienced Jesus’ ascension, his leaving them for heaven and fully ascending to his seat at the right hand of the father and I am guessing they have thought these words of “you just don’t understand, Jesus- we need you here, now, more of you. We aren’t done learning yet.”

Much like children anxious and fearful when learning to ride a bike, begging for those training wheels to stay on, the disciples are fearful, anxious, feeling lost, misunderstood and want what they think would make them most comfortable, most welcome.

Jesus, YOU don’t understand, we need you here.

Gathered together trying to understand, the disciples find themselves in Jerusalem with everyone else. Celebrating the festival 50days after Passover. The disciples are trying to give thanks, trying to understand, trying to find those who might listen to them deeply, sit in the mystery, sit in the sorrow, the confusion and be with each other.

And there in their midst, the Holy Spirit descends and a new comprehension occurs. While their questions are not answered, they are given the ability to speak in new languages. You just heard of all the places people came from, places far more exotic than Boston MA or Cairo GA, even more distant like Uvalde Texas, Buffalo NY, Afghanistan, Kyiv Ukraine, … people, like us, who have gathered with the need to hear the reassurance that God indeed understands our sorrow and grief with the senseless violence and pain of this world.

The Disciples gathered there in Jerusalem were able to share the words of hope, of love, of comfort with those who around them. They shared with a fire not only above their head but in their hearts, a flame ignited to embrace those who are broken, who are in need of comfort, shelter, hope.

The disciples shared this message of a God who binds up the broken hearted and brings down the lofty, equalizes the disparities in words that each person could understand.

Words spoken from the heart to the heart.

Words that invited a conversation rather than requiring a translation, words that made each person feel included and directly linked to God.

Living into the words of Catherine of Sienna, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

When we do not feel understood a distance is created.

Lord, Help us to understand

Help our unbelief

God understands each and every one of us.

God knit us together in the womb and has made us for marvelous acts.

God’s way of helping the world to understand God was to send his son into the world so that we might more fully understand this love that God has for us. Translating to us what healing and wholeness can look like even in adversity, even in the worst of tragedies, even in— you fill in the blank.

Jesus endured all of it and showed us the way of mercy, sacrifice and justice.

The disciples on this Pentecost day welcomed the Holy Spirit into their midst and in so doing heaven came down to earth again empowering the believers to do more than they could imagine, more than they could understand and in welcoming that Holy Spirit each person was able to be the hands and feet of Christ to another.

On Pentecost Sunday, we have baptisms (as we will today at 10am!), we watch as young children (and adults) are bathed into this holy mystery of being a part of the family of God.

Being family is something we are all striving to understand each moment that we live —as we “grow in grace.”

We hear adults make those promises on those children’s behalf and we, as a congregation, will renew our own baptismal covenant promising to live lives where others might come to understand God more fully through our actions, prayers, and striving for justice and peace.

In a world of brokenness where misunderstanding and division lead too often and too quickly to violence, this Pentecost Sunday we need to listen deeply to the invitation of the holy spirit.

Come holy spirit in our midst, disrupt us in our despair, our brokenness, our paralyzed selves and reignite the fire of the call to each of us to go into this world to give comfort, be instruments of your peace, and seek to understand– extending a hand to your beloved child standing beside us, that we all might be one.

In the words of St. Francis, “Help us to understand rather than to be understood.” Help us to be “who you have meant us to be and set the world on fire with your love.”

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