United Methodist Parish

Sunday, May 31, 2020 Pentecost 1

Sunday, May 31, 2020 Pentecost 1

Our journey toward abundant living is like walking a spiritual labyrinth repeatedly from an ever deepening inner space. We walk toward the center to be transformed by God’s love; then we walk outward to transform our small space in the world by reflecting God’s love. There is no intention to trick us or get us lost along the journey But there is mystery. Always mystery. And awe. And amazing grace.

From Abundance by Marilyn Brown Oden, quoted in A Guide for All Who Seek God, Upper Room Books © 2006, p. 223

What does a labyrinth have to do with Pentecost? That was my thought, when I read this excerpt in my devotions for this week.

A labyrinth is not a maze although if you have never walked one, your first thought is, how will I ever find my way through this?

If you were to walk a labyrinth, the practice is that before you start, you bring something to mind that you would like to bring before God, a decision you are working on, a person or situation you are praying for, guidance you seek for some part of your life. Then you would slowly follow the path as it goes toward the center, weaves around corners, heads away from the center, and finally ends in the center. The center is where we often experience a closeness to God.

The process of walking helps us focus and become aware of God. The walker may often remain in the center for a while before returning to the original opening by retracing the same path that led in.

Some may roll their eyes when they read or hear about this for the first time, but I have experienced God’s presence this way and have witnessed many others experience it quite unexpectedly.

Again, what does a labyrinth have to do with Pentecost?

“We walk toward the center to be transformed by God’s love; then we walk outward to transform our small space in the world by reflecting God’s love.” The key must be here and in the word transform. Transformation is the work of the Holy Spirit. “renewal and empowerment”

John 7:37-39: On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (NRSV)

Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water. This “living water” is the Holy Spirit whose work it is to renew, empower, transform ordinary folks into people who can do extraordinary things.

Our Bible is the story of simple folk whom God used to create a people that eventually became the Body of Christ, the Church. Not so that we can rest on our laurels and congratulate ourselves on how blessed we are, but so that we can be the conduits of God’s Holy Spirit of love into the world.

We do not do the transforming, but we do carry the Spirit of transformation with us as we witness to the work and love of Jesus Christ in our lives. Our acts of compassion, mercy, and justice can show a world that God is alive and at work.

We do not perform these acts relying on our own abilities – but by relying on the gift of the Holy Spirit through whom we abide with God.

When we connect to the deepest part of ourselves we connect to the source of Living Water which in turn flows from us to help heal a hurting world.

Jesus says, you who are thirsty, come to me and drink. It’s time to reconnect our deepest thirst with the only thing that can quench it. Come to the well and drink of living water and receive the refreshment of God’s Spirit.

Let’s walk the path of the labyrinth winding toward and away from God until we find the center. Remain there and drink deeply, feel the rush of wind and fire, feel the resurgence of energy and life, then refreshed and renewed, empowered and loved, let us return on the path that leads us back to our small space in the world.

~ Evie Doyon, May 2020