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Amazed and Perplexed

Acts 2:1-21 and Excerpts from Memories, Dreams, Reflections by C.G. Jung

Sunday June 5th, 2022

By Rev. Nicole M. Lamarche

Welcome again on this Pentecost Sunday! What some call the birthday of the church, another kind of a genesis story, what a gift to be together in all of the ways we can.


As we come to this time, we open ourselves to whatever word God has for each of us today.


So may all of us be more receptive to Spirit in this time and as you are moved, I invite you to take a deep breath and hear this prayer from Psalm 18: Gracious God, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.


“All were amazed and perplexed,” “the crowd gathered was bewildered,” they were “amazed and astonished” this is what we read of the story of Pentecost. Chaos, confusion. Mystery and movement. This is the story of the birth of the church.


I think we need to remember this right now, at this moment in our history. We must not forget how this all began, where we came from, the threads that brought us here.


Our beginning is bewilderment.


Because each person was speaking in their native language. And they came from all over, Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Egypt, Libya, Rome and beyond and they asked "What does this mean?"


We might like to imagine something more organized or tidy, something neat and nice, something predictable and planned where people came together and were bound by a higher purpose and it was harmonious.


But instead isn’t it funny and isn’t it interesting to remember that the story of Pentecost shows us something else? This new thing “came (with) a sound like the rush of a violent wind…” And this new thing refused to be static, right from the get-go it was dynamic and uncomfortable. And this new thing, didn’t start with order and answers, it all started with a diverse group of people who couldn’t understand one another and who weren’t sure what was going on.


Our beginning is bewilderment.


And yet, but still, in their coming together, something happens, a movement begins, the church was born and here we are.


And in a moment like this I wonder if God is reminding us of something essential? What if chaos and confusion create openings that wouldn’t be there otherwise?


What I mean is that what if windows open in times like these?


What if disorder can throw us off so we are thrown open? What if our individual and collective spiritual journeys are brought deeper somehow?


Recently, a Denver weather woman announced loudly on the evening program that what was in the forecast was this: uncertainty.


And so what if this time can be for us something like holy ground?


And what if there are ways in which underneath the chaos a kind of order we cannot see pulls us onward? As Carl Jung wrote, “In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.”


What if chaos can lead to new creations?


Because when we are confused, we are disoriented, which can mean there is a chance for us to be reoriented, it’s a time for us to imagine.


What if this story tells us that new connections, deeper relationships, important things, new possibilities can come from being amazed and perplexed? From being thrown off?


And what if this story tells us that beloved community comes from being willing to be bewildered and allowing ourselves to be astonished and being open to experiences that feel like the rush of a violent wind?


And what if this story tells us that depth and inward and outward growth come from being able to tell our stories, to share in our own languages, in our own ways?


That’s the other thing I notice when reading this story this year. What if our way through the chaos is growing our capacity to hear other languages? To hear other perspectives, to take in stories that don’t match what we already know.


Because seeing people as they are, and being seen as we are, hearing them and being heard adds goodness and love and I also think listening beyond the noise and trying to understand one another can truly contain the shadows of hate. As Carl Jung wrote, “The reason for evil in the world is that people are not able to tell their stories.”


In a time when mass gun violence events are showing our fractures and failures as a society, happening regularly, and in a time when war rages on and inflation rises and uncertainty looms, what if the way forward in hope will come from not fearing the chaos and confusion? And what if hope can be found when we tell our stories, and share in our own languages, and try to hear one another and see one another right where we are?


Because today we remember that our movement of love started with a diverse group of people who couldn’t understand one another and who weren’t sure what was going on and still God was there and God is here…right now. The energy that is love leads us, lures us…


So what if part of our call right now as people of conscience, as people of compassion, as people of faith is to embrace bewilderment? What if our call is to be willing to be mystified and to keep going? And what if our call is to keep ourselves pried open so we can hear across the chasms of culture and experience?


I love that even with all of the rapid advances in technology, in this post-modern era, we come together to tell old stories, to remember what we are about and why it matters and what we are called to do.


And today we remember that our beginning is bewilderment. We remember that disorder can bring us deeper and that confusion can lead to new creations, new relationships, even, across wide chasms of distance from difference.


Just like those on that day of Pentecost, we are gathered by the Spirit. And here is how I understand the words from the Prophet Joel that we heard in the book of Acts: we are gathered here to be open to the Spirit being poured out and we are gathered to take seriously the words of our children, to hold the visions of the small ones and the sages and to take them seriously. And we are gathered to hear that even for those who are now held captive, blessings can come, freedom will come. We are gathered to hear that even when it feels like all around us we see blood and fire and the mist of mourning, even when it feels like the very sun will be covered in darkness, the Lord is here, Love is here, “Everyone who calls on the name of Love shall be saved.'


The story of Pentecost shows us that often the new thing comes like the rush of a violent wind…” And often beautiful things refuse to be static and they make us uncomfortable. And often God inspired things don’t start with order and answers, rather they begin with a diverse group of people who can’t really understand one another and who aren’t sure what is going on.


Let us not fear, we know how to do this.


“All were amazed and perplexed,” “the crowd gathered was bewildered,” they were “amazed and astonished.” Chaos, confusion. Mystery and movement. This is the story of the birth of the church. Our beginning is bewilderment. Let us not forget. May it be so. Amen.








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