THIS IS US – Day of Pentecost, Year C

June 5, 2022

Revised Common Lectionary
Acts 2:1-21 or Genesis 11:1-9
Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
Romans 8:14-17
John 14:8-17 (25-27)

Lectionary for Mass (RC)
Acts 2:1-11
Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34 (see 30)
Romans 8:8-17
John 14:15-16, 23b-26

I’m guessing that my husband and I are not the only people who have been weeping each Tuesday evening in front of the television screen while viewing the final episodes of “This Is Us.” For six seasons we have watched generations of Pearsons celebrate, struggle, quarrel, reconcile, and grieve. We have seen the family grow and change through birth and adoption, relationships and marriages, separation and death. We have shared in the most intimate moments of their life together.

I’ve been thinking over the past few weeks about how “This Is Us” portrays the deep connections between parents and their children, even when children are adopted. As I was reflecting on today’s Lectionary texts from Paul’s Letter to the Romans and the Gospel of John, I was struck by the ways in which the Spirit has similarly drawn us into family relationships with God and one another.

It was not enough for God to have created us and saved us from sin. The overflowing divine love reaches further yet as the Holy Spirit draws us into a deeply intimate bond with God. Through the Spirit we “have received a Spirit of adoption” (Rom 8:15). We can call out to God as our Mommy or Daddy (see 8:15), because we are truly God’s very own children. The Spirit claims us for adoption with the same inheritance rights as Christ himself. We are “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (8:17).

Yes, this is us: Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, God has claimed us as children, loving us as a parent, and making us siblings with Christ and thus with one another. We have become God’s family through divine love freely poured out in abundance. As co-heirs with Christ, we are co-heirs also with one another, formed into a community that includes those we might not have chosen but with whom we share the inheritance.

This is us: Like the Pearson children, we have been welcomed not only into the family, but also into the family way of life. Jesus declares that those who believe in him “will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these” (Jn 14:12). He goes on to tell the disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (14:15). That means, of course, that we are to keep his “new commandment”—that we should love one another as he has loved us (13:34). Our actions are to express the sacrificial love that characterizes the family of God.

The Spirit of the risen Christ has filled us, gathered us, and transformed us, so that all may know that we are indeed God’s children by the love that we pour out for others. This is our family. This is our inheritance. This is us.

A Hymn for Today: “Gracious Spirit, Heed Our Pleading”

Both the tune and the original Swahili text for this hymn were written by pastor and scholar Wilson Niwagila in 1965 for the uniting of the Lutheran churches of Tanzania. It expresses the power of the Spirit to guide, transform, and empower the community of believers.

Gracious Spirit, heed our pleading;
fashion us all anew
It’s your leading that we’re needing;
help us to follow you.
Come, come, come, Holy Spirit, come.

Come to teach us; come to nourish
those who believe in Christ.
Bless the faithful; may they flourish,
strengthened by grace unpriced.
Come, come, come, Holy Spirit, come.

Guide our thinking and our speaking
done in your holy name.
Motivate all in their seeking,
freeing from guilt and shame.
Come, come, come, Holy Spirit, come.

Not mere knowledge, but discernment,
nor rootless liberty;
turn disquiet to contentment,
doubt into certainty.
Come, come, come, Holy Spirit, come.

Keep us fervent in our witness,
unswayed by earth’s allure.
Ever grant us zealous fitness,
which you alone assure.
Come, come, come, Holy Spirit, come.

Text: Wilson Niwagilab, b. 1940; trans. Howard S. Olson, 1922-2010. © Lutheran Theological College, Makumira, admin. Augsburg Fortress. Used by permission under OneLicense # A-729857

Image Credit: Dove of the Holy Spirit, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, stained glass, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, 1660

“Word and Song: A Lectionary Reflection” is written by the Executive Director of The Hymn Society, Rev. Dr. Mike McMahon. For his full bio, click here and scroll down to the “staff” section.

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