One day I was out by the shed near our home and noticed that the garbage can was lying on its side. I went over to pick it up and found the can empty. Which was odd, because the day before my son had taken out the trash and I know a bag was in there. So where did it go? We’ve had raccoons get into the garbage in the past, but this was not their handiwork. They tend to rip open the bag and scatter trash all over the place. No, this was something different.

Something or someone had made off with the entire bag; there was no sign of it anywhere. So here was my hypothesis: It was either a coyote, a bear, or a Good Samaritan that happened by and thoughtfully took my trash away. Hmm…. Which could it be? I’m opting for either the bear or coyote, because where we lived, I can’t see anyone coming all the way out there just to take a bag of my trash to the dump.

And so it is with our thought process. It’s hard for us to conceive anyone going that far out of his or her way to help another. And yet, in the Bible we hear stories like the Good Samaritan where someone does go out of their way for a complete stranger. We hear a story of Jesus who touches a leper when everyone knows that’s off limits. We hear a story of Jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners even though it is not characteristic of a faithful Jew to do so.
We are now in the season of Pentecost where we celebrate the Holy Spirit’s ongoing work in the world, moving people to do things out of the ordinary and to do things unlike us. We celebrate this work of the third person of the Trinity, but I wonder how well we embrace the Spirit’s thought process? You want me to do what? You want me to go where? Are we truly ready and eager to be pushed? Are we open to being sent to do something outside of our comfort zone? Are we willing to go to places that we dare not go?

Soon, a group of us from Salem will be heading to Houston for the National Youth Gathering. Houston has never been on my top ten list of places to visit. And yet, the Spirit is sending us there. And so we go, with open eyes, hands, and ears to learn, serve, and grow in whatever way God intends. So as we board the plane I will say once again, “Thanks be to God” for giving us yet another opportunity to go and be your people in the world.

Come Holy Spirit…

In Peace, Pastor Derek