Pentecost

I sit there in absolute and utter awe when I hear what I would classify as some of the worst sermons … ever. You know, they’re the sermons that leave you scratching your head – not because of the lofty and possibly slightly intangible bits of theology you’ve been given to feed upon that are based on the readings of the day; not because of the messages that teach you more about your faith and encourage you to live more deeply and more fully in those beliefs because you’ve been strengthened by those edifying words and thoughts. No, I’m talking about the unbelievable utterances of men who step into the pulpit, or behind the lectern, or podium, or wherever they tend to do these things, and spout complete and utter nonsense that has nothing to do with the current readings or passages for the day. These are the men who leave me sitting at the end of the sermon asking myself “WTF?”

I think the first one I heard was just over 20 years ago. It was a Midnight Mass between two Lutheran congregations – one an English-speaking congregation, the other a Spanish-speaking congregation. Being the host church to the Spanish congregation, the first half of the sermon was in given in English. He spoke about language barriers, such as there was between the two congregations gathered together. He likened that to the language barriers the Holy Family would have faced having to be in Bethlehem where people were coming from all over to be counted. In the Inn, where there was no room for them to stay, they would have been serving a lot of people from all over. And normally in Inns, they would be serving a lot of beer. But sometimes the words are similar in different languages. Like the word for beer, in German, is bier, which still sounds like beer. But then after drinking all that beer, one would have to go to the bathroom. But then the bathroom doors would have, in Spanish, either Caballero or Caballera on them. But at that time, the bathrooms would have been outside the Inn. And if a customer was drinking all that beer, and had to stumble outside to use the bathroom, trying to figure out whether to use the door which said Caballero or Caballera – would he have heard the Baby Jesus crying?

Leaving the question as if he had just posed a highly theological Truth for us to ponder, that was it. He sat down and let the Spanish-speaking Deacon take over. In all honesty, I believe I was more edified by the Spanish half of the sermon which I couldn’t understand.

Then there was another sermon I thankfully didn’t hear myself (and in that fact I feel I was edified!). Instead, I’ve heard hints of it from others who suffered it. It had something to do about a parallel world where there was a Spider God. But I won’t get into that one.

Most recently, there was this year’s sermon for the feast of Pentecost (or Whitsunday) which was just this past Sunday. It had nothing to do with the coming down of the Holy Ghost. He started out discussing horror movies and evil creatures that possess people. He talked about aliens who come to Earth and possess people’s bodies. Possession is depicted as a bad and evil thing. But when the Holy Ghost came down, He possessed the disciples and Our Lady. But the Holy Ghost only possesses us if we want Him to. If we didn’t want Him to, that would be rape. But the Holy Ghost didn’t rape Mary. The Holy Ghost is wrongly depicted as a pigeon – a dirty, nasty, stinking pigeon; that filthy creature. Nor is the Holy Ghost the image of the dove – which may be a step better than a pigeon. No, the Holy Ghost is rightfully depicted as fire. And that’s why we are wearing red today. Because red is the color of fire.

Really?? And that’s the message of Pentecost? Huh.

What scares me is that these people, during the sermon, are supposed to be teaching the faith to the people. What exactly can we learn about (1) someone drinking too much beer, and whether they heard the Baby Jesus crying when they sought a healthy urination; or (2) that there might be a parallel world where there is a Spider God; or (3) that the Holy Ghost isn’t raping you, that He didn’t rape Mary, that he’s not a nasty pigeon, or a dove, but fire, which is why we wear red on Pentecost?

Well, Dang … I wore beige.

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