Paul writes in Romans 8:22-27, “22 We know that the whole creation has been
groaning in labor pains until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who
have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the
redemption of our bodies. 24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is
not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not
see, we wait for it with patience.
       26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to
pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27
And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the
Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
What a timely scripture in this season of Pentecost, as we are still reeling from the
events at Santa Fe High School… where the evil demonic powers and principalities of
this dark age struck once again, this time not in another state or another town,  but
at our own Greater Houston Community, striking at our very hearts by inflicting death
and destruction on our youth.
       Paul reminds us that, “All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The
difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only
around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling
the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full
       Full deliverance… full deliverance from what, Pastor? Well, for starters, from
these demonic forces that kill, steal and destroy. Deliverance from the violence, from
the politics, and labeling, and side-taking, and hatred, and backsliding, and sin, and
selfishness, and deceiving, and self-serving agendas, and manipulation of scripture to
fit our own perversions and lustful desires…
we are sorely, gravely, desperately in
need of deliverance. The Spirit of God is arousing us to a revelation that we are
wicked at heart and most assuredly in need of a Savior.
       At Pentecost, the Spirit of God descended upon the disciples, not like a dove
as he did at Jesus’ baptism, but as a flame… a single flame that quickly became two
and then three and then many tongues of fire blazing upon and within those in the
room, inspiring a bold initiative in Jerusalem that day; with Peter preaching a God-
inspired sermon that burned Holy Spirit fire into 3,000 souls who accepted Jesus as
       That same Holy Spirit fire is the very thing that our world yearns for today
in the wake of such senseless violence brought on by the prevailing culture of
godlessness and the demons of apathy, immorality, hopelessness and fear that rob our
communities of vitality, morality, hope and love.
       We are as a people, waiting. Oh, we hate to wait. Oh, how we hate to wait,
don’t we? As if waiting were a bad thing. If Jesus were to return right this moment,
and it could happen... if Jesus were to come right now in all his majesty and glory it
would be good news for some, but for many, many, many people in the world, including
our communities, it would be a bad day for those faced with the truth of the holy
justice of a pure, holy, just God who brings righteous judgment on a wicked and
profane world.
       In that context, then maybe, just maybe, waiting is a good thing. For God to
make us wait for the second coming of Christ… that’s an act of grace and mercy to
spare and save as many as possible because His desire is that none should perish.
Waiting, as much as we might dislike it, is a good thing. “That is why,” Paul says,
“waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother.
We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But
the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.”
The thing about the arrival of the Holy Spirit upon the scene of our lives is that we
don’t have to wait alone and in the dark… Paul tells us, “Meanwhile, the moment we
get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t
know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us,
making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better
than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before
God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is
worked into something good.”
       Our love for God is worked into something good… In almost surreal opposition
to the horror of the school shooting in Santa Fe, there was another highly visible
event across the “pond” that brought light into this dark world. Angela made sure
that we didn’t miss it Saturday morning as she set her alarm for 5:30 a.m. I made
coffee (not tea) and we watched the wedding in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor
Castle, of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
For me, being a first generation American born to a British father and an American
mother, there is a certain level of interest in this event… for Angela, who is also of
British ancestry, well it was a wedding, and a royal one at that, after all…rooted in
tradition and romance and love.  Watching the British Royals marry is just something
we do in our house… our family history sort of compels that mindset. As a brief
rabbit trail...Our Lightfoot family history goes back in British history to the 9th
Century. And it too is rooted in love...
       The family history goes like this:
About the year 1066 when William the Norman invaded England, Hereward the Wake
and Martin Lightfoot owned a south Lincolnshire island known as the “Isle of Ely” upon
which was built “Kime Tower.” Eventually Martin sold his portion of the island to his
kinsman, Sir Rodger Lightfoot, who had three sons, Rodger, William, and Harold.
William, the second son, fell in love with a beautiful commoner. Sir Rodger forbade
William to marry the girl. However, in defiance of his Sire’s wishes, William eloped
with the girl. Mounted on fast horses, Sir Rodger and his armed retinue overtook the
runaway lovers. During the ensuing fight William was fatally pierced by an arrow. The
angry father buried William’s body in a shallow grave in the shadow of Kime Tower
and swearing an oath that no son of his should ever again leave the tower without his
permission, he drove a blackthorn stake down into the grave. Legend has it that the
stake took root and burst into a mass of bloom to prove William had died for his love.
Sir Rodger was succeeded by his first son who was killed on the Scottish battlefield
of Tenchebrai. Harold also died, leaving Kime Tower to the memory of the Lightfoot
       So, as you can see, the pomp and circumstance of a royal wedding is
fascinating to my household, but what really catches my attention is the grounding in
centuries of traditional values firmly rooted in the Christian religion and the Christian
Church from which vitality, morality, hope and love spring forth for the benefit of
the whole world. This is the tradition from which the founder of Methodism, John
Wesley, came as he was an Anglican priest in the Church of England. This is the
tradition from which we come as United Methodists… a tradition of love.
       The sermon at the wedding ceremony was preached by an American preacher,
Bishop Michael Curry, who preached about love, specifically how love, godly, love, is a
powerful force for change, for redemption, for re-creation. I believe he is correct.
Divine love, brought into the consciousness and experience of humankind by the
revelation and power of the Holy Spirit, has the power to change the darkness of this
world into light, the dimness of our limited understanding into a lampstand of
enlightenment, the hate into compassion, the division into unity in righteous agreement
at what is the word and will of God.
       And so, this Pentecost season, in celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit
into the hearts of believers, the commemoration of the birth of the one holy catholic
and apostolic church, we pray for a resurgence of traditional Christianity and the
overwhelming outpouring of Christ’s divine love on our community and all over the
world. It is this love that is revealed to us by the power of the Holy Spirit that can
deliver us from the evil that seeks to rob us of our humanity. And so, we say most
fervently… Come, Holy Spirit, Come. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and
the Holy Spirit.

       By His Grace,
               Pastor Steven †  


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