Monday, May 21, 2018

God's Spirit

"In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit." (Acts 2:17-18)

Yesterday, many churches celebrated Pentecost, the festival of the Holy Spirit. After Jesus had been raised from the dead and was taken up into heaven, God sent the Spirit upon Jesus' disciples. A man of flesh and blood could not be with them forever. But God's Spirit can. Some call this the birthday of the church because a small, Jewish movement broke wide open and included everyone of any nationality or religion. God's Spirit knows no boundaries. 

Peter quoted the above passage from the Prophet Joel 2:28: God will pour out God's Spirit on all people, young and old, male and female, slave and free, and they shall dream dreams and have visions. That gives me hope for the future. Dreams and visions are indicators that something better is yet to come! This world is not all there is. When we get caught up in the hopelessness of violence and terror, the despair of poverty and natural disasters, the suffering of those affected by addiction or mental illnesses... That's when we need God's Spirit to give us the dreams and visions of a better world. 

What are your dreams and visions for this world? 

Come, Spirit, come,
Inspire us, encourage us, fill us with your presence, fill us with your love, 
Come, Spirit, come, 
Be a breath of fresh air in our hearts and our minds, give us dreams and visions and help us build a better world.
Come, Spirit, come. 

Monday, May 14, 2018


I am currently in the process of applying for U.S. citizenship. I have been a legal resident for over five years and am eligible, but I still have to go through some administrative steps and an interview. I will then also have to take an oath of allegiance.
I look forward to being a full citizen with all rights and privileges.
But this process made me think about what "citizenship" means, and what country I am willing to pledge my loyalty to. I am keeping my German citizenship because I still feel connected to my country of origin, its people and its culture. And I know how privileged I am that I will soon be a citizen of two democratic nations that protect each individual's dignity. Not everyone is so privileged. Not every nation respects freedom of speech and religion, or other basic human rights. And even those nations who do, do so first and foremost for their own citizens. Those who are not a citizen or a legal resident have no rights and privileges. They live in constant fear of being caught and shipped back to a country where there are no guarantees for a life in freedom and safety.

Shouldn't we all be global citizens? Shouldn't our freedom and dignity be respected and protected no matter where we are? 

God says so, in Leviticus 19:34:
"The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God." 
"Aliens" and citizens should be treated the same. 

Paul writes, in Ephesians 2:19:
"So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God."

In the eyes of God there are no strangers or aliens, there are only citizens of the household of God. In the eyes of God we all have the same rights and privileges: to be loved, and to love. To be welcome, to be safe - and to welcome others and make them feel safe.

No matter what passport I carry, that's the kind of community that I want to be a citizen of!

May God help us to live this way.