Keep Calm

Bible Text: Acts 2:1-21, Psalm 104:24-34 | Preacher: Rev. Jenn Geddes

(I am very aware of the anniversary which passed us on June 6th. Having been to Juno Beach and Beny Surs Mer I have visuals that help me articulate what D-Day was for Canadians, the Allies, and how that day and the days that followed defined World War Two. Although this has little to do with the sermon I felt it was vital for us to acknowledge it. To give thanks for the sacrifices that were made but more importantly to recognize the horrific, fatal, and difficult consequences of war. We will take a moment of silence to reflect)

While listening to stories of D-Day over this past week I was struck by a phrase that I often see on modern day bumper stickers, screen savers and t-shirts. The phrase is “Keep Calm and Carry On” and is often in capital print and includes an image of a tudor crown. Interestingly enough that phrase was first put on motivational posters by the British Government’s Ministry of Information a few months before the declaration of war in 1939. It was intended to boost morale of the British public in the face of uncertainty in the event of a wartime disaster. Despite over 2 million posters with those words on it being printed the distribution was poor. It was not until the year 2000 that the phrase “keep calm and carry on” was re-discovered and reprinted. What started as a very serious effort to remain courageous during wartime has become a silly catch phrase. Since then, numerous parody phrases have popped up including in Calgary, Keep calm and Nenshi on, a promotional campaign in support of their mayor. I understand the phrase, it is important to keep calm in emergency situations and it is important to carry on when struggling to know the future. However, I wondered, what would have happened immediately following the events of Pentecost if instead of quoting Scripture Peter had addressed the frantic crowd by stating, “Don’t worry everybody, these people aren’t drunk, just keep calm and carry on.” First of all, we wouldn’t be the church we are today if everyone had kept calm or just kept on keeping on, just remained with the status quo. There would not have been a call to be a missional church, to receive the spirit with enthusiasm and strength. But I often feel like the church treats Pentecost as if that is all Peter said, keep calm and carry on. Live as you were.

As I mentioned in the “time for the young and young at heart” Pentecost is often viewed as the church’s Birthday. It is true Pentecost is celebrated as the birth of the church. It was with the arrival of the Spirit that the disciples were able to leave Jerusalem and preach. But as is common with anyone of our own birthdays we can become reflective and retrospective. A birthday celebration can become an exercise in looking backwards. Pentecost in particular can become a reflection upon the legacy of the church, a self-affirming pat on the back that we have made it this far. For two thousand years we have managed to maintain a Christendom. But this is not what the story of Pentecost tells us. If when we look at the versions of the events found in Matthew or John, Pentecost is not a look at our past but rather a call to live out the future. It is not an inward look but an outward action. In the Gospel of John, Jesus sends the apostolic community as the Father sent him and he breathes the Holy Spirit on them to empower them to go out and do ministry.

Many modern day theologians such as Douglas John Hall, Darrell Guder and Walter Bruggeman, note that we are no longer living in a Christendom world, a world dominated by Christian values, or Christian theology, or Christian States, but rather we are living in a post-Christendom world. However, instead of viewing this as the fall of the church, as the moment when the Spirit is no longer at work in our world, these theologians see it as an opportunity for the events of Pentecost to truly take effect. For the church to be truly missional in its intention. It can no longer be assumed that people know the Scriptures or practice prayer and we know there are less people in the churches than out of them. With this paradigm shift comes opportunity. Guder even states that “Our movement into a post-Christendom setting is in fact a liberating shift for us. Our situation today is closer to that of the pre-Constatinian church, that is, the church of the apostles, although certainly not identical. It makes it possible for us to read Scripture in ways we have not done for a long time.”

What these theologians are getting at is that we are more like the early church than we have been in centuries. Which means we have the major responsibility of being the missional witnesses Jesus calls us to be. At the beginning of Acts we hear Jesus’ ascension and Jesus says, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” To witness, being witnesses, is the overarching word that defines and describes the Christian community’s purpose and function in Acts. This is not about the status quo but abut something much larger. This is not about doing the same old, same old, but allowing the Spirit to give us the courage and strength to try new things, to experience new ministries, to witness to people who have never encountered Scripture before.

Pentecost also points to the fact that a missional church is a radical new inclusive church. This community which Joel speaks about and which Peter says is realized is incredibly inclusive. It is gender inclusive, “your sons and your daughters shall prophesy”, it is age inclusive, “the young and the old shall have visions and dreams.” And we know from the variety of witnesses to this event that it is ethnically inclusive. It makes me wonder in what other ways we can be an inclusive community.

It also makes me realize that Pentecost is not a once and done event. Ok, perhaps the wind and flames are, but the work of the apostles, the work of the early church and the work of the Spirit is not complete. We are at a crossroads in which we can discover that it is not about lamenting that the good old days or the golden age of the church is past, because if we are honest about our retrospective we will see that the legacy of the church has not always been a good one, but instead we can look to the possibilities of a pentecostal future (and I mean that it the most Presbyterian of ways). We can discover that the Holy Spirit enables us to proclaim the gospel in places and ways that Christendom never could. It’s time for a new phrase, Keep calm, sure, but Witness On because the spirit empowers us to do ministry and serve in missional ways not only to those within our walls but also beyond them. Amen 

June 8, 2014
Preacher:

Passage:

Acts 2:1-21, Psalm 104:24-34

Service Type:

(I am very aware of the anniversary which passed us on June 6th. Having been to Juno Beach and Beny Surs Mer I have visuals that help me articulate what D-Day was for Canadians, the Allies, and how that day and the days that followed defined World War Two. Although this has little to do with the sermon I felt it was vital for us to acknowledge it. To give thanks for the sacrifices that were made but more importantly to recognize the horrific, fatal, and difficult consequences of war. We will take a moment of silence to reflect)

While listening to stories of D-Day over this past week I was struck by a phrase that I often see on modern day bumper stickers, screen savers and t-shirts. The phrase is “Keep Calm and Carry On” and is often in capital print and includes an image of a tudor crown. Interestingly enough that phrase was first put on motivational posters by the British Government's Ministry of Information a few months before the declaration of war in 1939. It was intended to boost morale of the British public in the face of uncertainty in the event of a wartime disaster. Despite over 2 million posters with those words on it being printed the distribution was poor. It was not until the year 2000 that the phrase “keep calm and carry on” was re-discovered and reprinted. What started as a very serious effort to remain courageous during wartime has become a silly catch phrase. Since then, numerous parody phrases have popped up including in Calgary, Keep calm and Nenshi on, a promotional campaign in support of their mayor. I understand the phrase, it is important to keep calm in emergency situations and it is important to carry on when struggling to know the future. However, I wondered, what would have happened immediately following the events of Pentecost if instead of quoting Scripture Peter had addressed the frantic crowd by stating, “Don't worry everybody, these people aren't drunk, just keep calm and carry on.” First of all, we wouldn't be the church we are today if everyone had kept calm or just kept on keeping on, just remained with the status quo. There would not have been a call to be a missional church, to receive the spirit with enthusiasm and strength. But I often feel like the church treats Pentecost as if that is all Peter said, keep calm and carry on. Live as you were.

As I mentioned in the “time for the young and young at heart” Pentecost is often viewed as the church's Birthday. It is true Pentecost is celebrated as the birth of the church. It was with the arrival of the Spirit that the disciples were able to leave Jerusalem and preach. But as is common with anyone of our own birthdays we can become reflective and retrospective. A birthday celebration can become an exercise in looking backwards. Pentecost in particular can become a reflection upon the legacy of the church, a self-affirming pat on the back that we have made it this far. For two thousand years we have managed to maintain a Christendom. But this is not what the story of Pentecost tells us. If when we look at the versions of the events found in Matthew or John, Pentecost is not a look at our past but rather a call to live out the future. It is not an inward look but an outward action. In the Gospel of John, Jesus sends the apostolic community as the Father sent him and he breathes the Holy Spirit on them to empower them to go out and do ministry.

Many modern day theologians such as Douglas John Hall, Darrell Guder and Walter Bruggeman, note that we are no longer living in a Christendom world, a world dominated by Christian values, or Christian theology, or Christian States, but rather we are living in a post-Christendom world. However, instead of viewing this as the fall of the church, as the moment when the Spirit is no longer at work in our world, these theologians see it as an opportunity for the events of Pentecost to truly take effect. For the church to be truly missional in its intention. It can no longer be assumed that people know the Scriptures or practice prayer and we know there are less people in the churches than out of them. With this paradigm shift comes opportunity. Guder even states that “Our movement into a post-Christendom setting is in fact a liberating shift for us. Our situation today is closer to that of the pre-Constatinian church, that is, the church of the apostles, although certainly not identical. It makes it possible for us to read Scripture in ways we have not done for a long time.”

What these theologians are getting at is that we are more like the early church than we have been in centuries. Which means we have the major responsibility of being the missional witnesses Jesus calls us to be. At the beginning of Acts we hear Jesus' ascension and Jesus says, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” To witness, being witnesses, is the overarching word that defines and describes the Christian community's purpose and function in Acts. This is not about the status quo but abut something much larger. This is not about doing the same old, same old, but allowing the Spirit to give us the courage and strength to try new things, to experience new ministries, to witness to people who have never encountered Scripture before.

Pentecost also points to the fact that a missional church is a radical new inclusive church. This community which Joel speaks about and which Peter says is realized is incredibly inclusive. It is gender inclusive, “your sons and your daughters shall prophesy”, it is age inclusive, “the young and the old shall have visions and dreams.” And we know from the variety of witnesses to this event that it is ethnically inclusive. It makes me wonder in what other ways we can be an inclusive community.

It also makes me realize that Pentecost is not a once and done event. Ok, perhaps the wind and flames are, but the work of the apostles, the work of the early church and the work of the Spirit is not complete. We are at a crossroads in which we can discover that it is not about lamenting that the good old days or the golden age of the church is past, because if we are honest about our retrospective we will see that the legacy of the church has not always been a good one, but instead we can look to the possibilities of a pentecostal future (and I mean that it the most Presbyterian of ways). We can discover that the Holy Spirit enables us to proclaim the gospel in places and ways that Christendom never could. It's time for a new phrase, Keep calm, sure, but Witness On because the spirit empowers us to do ministry and serve in missional ways not only to those within our walls but also beyond them. Amen 

Bible Text: Acts 2:1-21, Psalm 104:24-34 | Preacher: Rev. Jenn Geddes

(I am very aware of the anniversary which passed us on June 6th. Having been to Juno Beach and Beny Surs Mer I have visuals that help me articulate what D-Day was for Canadians, the Allies, and how that day and the days that followed defined World War Two. Although this has little to do with the sermon I felt it was vital for us to acknowledge it. To give thanks for the sacrifices that were made but more importantly to recognize the horrific, fatal, and difficult consequences of war. We will take a moment of silence to reflect)

While listening to stories of D-Day over this past week I was struck by a phrase that I often see on modern day bumper stickers, screen savers and t-shirts. The phrase is “Keep Calm and Carry On” and is often in capital print and includes an image of a tudor crown. Interestingly enough that phrase was first put on motivational posters by the British Government’s Ministry of Information a few months before the declaration of war in 1939. It was intended to boost morale of the British public in the face of uncertainty in the event of a wartime disaster. Despite over 2 million posters with those words on it being printed the distribution was poor. It was not until the year 2000 that the phrase “keep calm and carry on” was re-discovered and reprinted. What started as a very serious effort to remain courageous during wartime has become a silly catch phrase. Since then, numerous parody phrases have popped up including in Calgary, Keep calm and Nenshi on, a promotional campaign in support of their mayor. I understand the phrase, it is important to keep calm in emergency situations and it is important to carry on when struggling to know the future. However, I wondered, what would have happened immediately following the events of Pentecost if instead of quoting Scripture Peter had addressed the frantic crowd by stating, “Don’t worry everybody, these people aren’t drunk, just keep calm and carry on.” First of all, we wouldn’t be the church we are today if everyone had kept calm or just kept on keeping on, just remained with the status quo. There would not have been a call to be a missional church, to receive the spirit with enthusiasm and strength. But I often feel like the church treats Pentecost as if that is all Peter said, keep calm and carry on. Live as you were.

As I mentioned in the “time for the young and young at heart” Pentecost is often viewed as the church’s Birthday. It is true Pentecost is celebrated as the birth of the church. It was with the arrival of the Spirit that the disciples were able to leave Jerusalem and preach. But as is common with anyone of our own birthdays we can become reflective and retrospective. A birthday celebration can become an exercise in looking backwards. Pentecost in particular can become a reflection upon the legacy of the church, a self-affirming pat on the back that we have made it this far. For two thousand years we have managed to maintain a Christendom. But this is not what the story of Pentecost tells us. If when we look at the versions of the events found in Matthew or John, Pentecost is not a look at our past but rather a call to live out the future. It is not an inward look but an outward action. In the Gospel of John, Jesus sends the apostolic community as the Father sent him and he breathes the Holy Spirit on them to empower them to go out and do ministry.

Many modern day theologians such as Douglas John Hall, Darrell Guder and Walter Bruggeman, note that we are no longer living in a Christendom world, a world dominated by Christian values, or Christian theology, or Christian States, but rather we are living in a post-Christendom world. However, instead of viewing this as the fall of the church, as the moment when the Spirit is no longer at work in our world, these theologians see it as an opportunity for the events of Pentecost to truly take effect. For the church to be truly missional in its intention. It can no longer be assumed that people know the Scriptures or practice prayer and we know there are less people in the churches than out of them. With this paradigm shift comes opportunity. Guder even states that “Our movement into a post-Christendom setting is in fact a liberating shift for us. Our situation today is closer to that of the pre-Constatinian church, that is, the church of the apostles, although certainly not identical. It makes it possible for us to read Scripture in ways we have not done for a long time.”

What these theologians are getting at is that we are more like the early church than we have been in centuries. Which means we have the major responsibility of being the missional witnesses Jesus calls us to be. At the beginning of Acts we hear Jesus’ ascension and Jesus says, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” To witness, being witnesses, is the overarching word that defines and describes the Christian community’s purpose and function in Acts. This is not about the status quo but abut something much larger. This is not about doing the same old, same old, but allowing the Spirit to give us the courage and strength to try new things, to experience new ministries, to witness to people who have never encountered Scripture before.

Pentecost also points to the fact that a missional church is a radical new inclusive church. This community which Joel speaks about and which Peter says is realized is incredibly inclusive. It is gender inclusive, “your sons and your daughters shall prophesy”, it is age inclusive, “the young and the old shall have visions and dreams.” And we know from the variety of witnesses to this event that it is ethnically inclusive. It makes me wonder in what other ways we can be an inclusive community.

It also makes me realize that Pentecost is not a once and done event. Ok, perhaps the wind and flames are, but the work of the apostles, the work of the early church and the work of the Spirit is not complete. We are at a crossroads in which we can discover that it is not about lamenting that the good old days or the golden age of the church is past, because if we are honest about our retrospective we will see that the legacy of the church has not always been a good one, but instead we can look to the possibilities of a pentecostal future (and I mean that it the most Presbyterian of ways). We can discover that the Holy Spirit enables us to proclaim the gospel in places and ways that Christendom never could. It’s time for a new phrase, Keep calm, sure, but Witness On because the spirit empowers us to do ministry and serve in missional ways not only to those within our walls but also beyond them. Amen