You know it is when it hasn’t rained in a long time and then it does. Not a gully washer of a rain, but just a regular rain. You know the roads can get a little slick when the accumulated road oil comes to the surface. Well that is what happened to this truck driver on a country road. Came around this corner and the tires started to slip a little bit, then a lot, and he skidded right to the ditch.
So he gets out of the cab, looks at the fine mess he has gotten himself into, and then looks around and sees he is in the middle of nowhere. There is absolutely nothing around except this one farmhouse. So he sets on down the drive and knocks on the door.
An older farmer comes to the door and he and the truck driver exchange greetings and pleasantries. Soon enough the truck driver asks the farmer if he can use the telephone to call a tow truck to get him out of the ditch. The farmer tells him that he can’t, because there is no telephone. So, the truck driver asks if there is a tractor and maybe the farmer can pull him out of the ditch. The farmer tells him that he sold off the tractor long ago.
While the truck driver is looking flabbergasted and flummoxed, wondering how he is ever gonna’ get out of that ditch, the farmer says, “I ain’t got a tractor, but I have a mule.”
With nothing to lose, the truck driver says, “OK, let’s give it a try!”
About 10 minutes later the truck driver sees the farmer coming down the drive with a single mule and the harness rig. His heart sank because he thinks to himself, “Oh man, that poor ol’ mule is not going to be able to pull my truck out of this ditch.” But he said nothing when the farmer hooked the harness up to the truck.
With everything ready, the farmer calls out: “OK, Blue, pull away.” The mule strains a little, but the truck doesn’t budge, not even an inch. Then the farmer calls out, “OK, Beulah, pull away” the mule strains again, and truck rocks a little, but does not move much.
“OK, Sam, pull away” the mule strains, and the truck begins to move forward but the slope of the ditch is just too much
“OK, JohnBoy, pull away” the mule strains, and the truck slowly moves forward and inch by inch comes right out of that ditch.
The truck driver is amazes and says to the farmer, “Wow! That was incredible! That was amazing! The truck driver thanked the farmer profusely, offered him a wad of cash as payment – which the farmer refused saying that helping was the neighborly thing.
But the truck driver said, “Well maybe you can clear up one thing for me…. What is the mule’s name? The farmer said, “Why, it’s Blue…. Why do you ask?”
“Well, you did call her Blue at first, but then you seemed to call he Beulah, Sam, and JohnBoy.”
“Oh that…. You see Blue don’t see so well. If she thought she was alone, she never would have gotten your truck out of the ditch.”
At the center of it all, that is Pentecost and what we celebrate on this day: we are not alone
The Spirit has been given as Jesus promised in the gospel just two weeks ago: … the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name–he will teach you everything and remind you of all that (I) told you (John 14:26). We are not alone – we have been given the Divine Helper to be with us and help us to do more than we thought possible. And the Holy Spirit comes bearing gifts: wisdom, understanding, counsel (right judgment), fortitude (courage), knowledge, piety (reverence), and fear of the Lord (wonder and awe).
We are not alone. Look around. There are a whole bunch of people in this community of faith who are also gifted by the Holy Spirit.
Those gifts are given in the context of your lives as students, parents, doctors, lawyers, carpenters, school teachers, nurses, bus drivers, butcher, baker and candlestick makers. Those gifts are given in the context of your interests and hobbies. Sometimes they are calling you to a newness that has always been waiting for you.
We are not alone. The Holy Spirit keeps coming to check, to cajole, to push, to get us to use our gifts. There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. (1 Cor 12:4-7) The benefit is always to build up the Body of Christ, the church.
We are most surely Church when we bring forth our gifts into the world. We bring voices that come forward to join the choir to sing the praises of God and lead folks in worship. We bring hands that come forward, pulling together to make a parish picnic, a gala, a Mass of Belonging a huge success. We bring heart to reach out to the poor. We bring our faith to pass on to our children and youth. We minister. We are church. The gifts and talents of you and the person next to you make all our ministries possible – but we don’t always see it.
OK Blue, Beulah, Sam and JohnBoy – pull together. As Jesus promised – you are never alone.