Monday, May 16, 2016


When my wife and I were moving into our first parsonage we asked for permission to paint it.
The congregation agreed.
However, the council president pulled us aside and said, “Just don’t paint any rooms red”.
He didn’t know that we were planning to paint the dining room red.
He agreed to let us do what we want but warned us we would regret it.
I am not sure what he had against the color red, but it seems that red may not be a favorite color of many.
The color red is often associated with danger, passion, and anger.
But it is also associated with courage, love, and joy.
It sends mixed messages.
Red is the liturgical color for Pentecost.
Today we celebrate the church receiving the Holy Spirit and sent out into the world.
It is appropriate that it is the color red because the Holy Spirit too has mixed messages for us and our lives.
Sure the Holy Spirit leads us into truth, and reminds us of God’s love.
But it also has a dash of danger to it.
To go out into a hostile world, to be God’s people is a dangerous idea.
Who knows what can happen?

This week at our Wednesday night worship we were discussing the Holy Spirit.
And one person said they were reluctant to talk to others about when they experience the Holy Spirit.
She said, “I think to myself should I tell others about it? Should I make a fool of myself?”
The Holy Spirit often times brings us out into uncharted territory and makes other think we are weird or out of sorts.

This morning in the story we hear from Acts that the first Pentecost brought confusion.
That some of the people who witnessed what was happening thought that the apostles had lost their minds.
Or that they were drunk.
In fact, they were not drunk.
They were seeing and experiencing the Holy Spirit.
They understood the teaching of the God’s intentions for all humanity.
They were dreaming dreams of something great and better for all people.
They were seeing what Jesus meant when he told them that he was sending an advocate to remind them of what the kingdom of God is about.
But it is dangerous.
It is like playing with fire.

And we know what fire can do.
It can give us light, warmth, protection, community, and cook our food.
It can also burn us and destroy us.
Fire like the color red has two sides.
How do we know if we are on the right side?
How do we know the difference between seeing the Spirit and simply being crazy?

It is important that we remember that the Spirit is not about random events.
The Spirit is about tying our lives to Jesus Christ.
The Spirit reminds us of all that Jesus told us.
So in order to be in the Spirit it has to be about what Jesus told us.

If you know me you know that I have a hard time hiding my displeasure.
Mostly because when I am upset my face turns different shades of red.
This week was not a great week for me.
Not because something bad happened to me.
It was bad of my own making.
You ever have a time like that when things are not going well and it is your fault?
I had two times this week when I wish I would have held my tongue a little bit.
Two times when I wished I had expressed myself differently, I wish I had been more thoughtful, more eloquent.
In both cases I let my anger out.
In both cases my faces was bright red.
Once at the Bishop of our synod, and once at the principle of the school my kids go to.
I was at the dangerous side of red.
The side of burning fire, of anger.
I have no one to blame but myself.
And that makes it worse.

We all have two sides to us too.
We all have the side of red that burns hot.
Maybe that is why the council president warned us against red for our dining room?
Because it reminded him of danger, and anger it was too aggressive for him.
It reminded him of the side of ourselves that we don’t want to know about.
The side we don’t want to talk about.
This morning I lay bare to all of you my sins.
I confess to you my anger, my lack of control, my quick temper that flared before I heard all the facts.

But at times like these I take solace in Jesus words that we hear from the Gospel of John this morning.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.”
“Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
There is the other side to our faith journey.
We enter the fire to be refined.
We receive the Holy Spirit to be molded by God.
To receive the words that Jesus gives us in times when we have made a mess of life, which in our sin and imperfection there is God’s healing powers of love and joy.
We are reminded that the sun rises each day.
We are reminded that blood flows through us so we can make amends.
Today the color of the day is red.
It is a color loaded with double meanings.
It has meanings of on the one hand danger, anger, of being burned, and courage, love, and joy on the other.

In renaissance paintings Jesus is often painted with red.
Renaissance painters used red to draw people’s attention to the most important part of a painting.
And when they painted Jesus he was at the center of attention.
In our own lives Jesus should be at the center.
It should be what draws our attention.
This week I spent time wallowing in my own imperfections.
I spent time replaying what I had done over and over.
I lost sleep about it.
I thought about the red that had burned me.

But I came here to this place to seek God’s guidance and forgiveness.
I experienced also the other side of red.
I experienced the Holy Spirit and the fire that burnt away our sins, so that we might learn from them and grow from them.
I heard through the Holy Spirit the words of Jesus, “Peace I leave you.”
The other side of red was here too the side of love and joy, the side of light, warmth, protection, the side of God that forgives us, and loves us through those bad weeks of our own making.

That is the work of the Holy Spirit.
It is to teach us and remind us of the words of Jesus.
So that we might remember that we are forgiven and sent back out into the world to try again.
The person was right on Wednesday night it all sounds a little foolish.
That is the danger of living in the Spirit to believe that God can love and care for even someone like me.

I wish you all to know the peace that Jesus brings.
The peace that heals our sins helps us through the bad weeks.
A peace that is foolish.
It is a peace that seems to be contradictory because like the color red itself it has more than one side.
A peace that acknowledges our sin and the same time a peace that burns it away with the Holy Spirit.

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