Our Acts scripture begun with 120 of Jesus’ followers gathered, spiritually and physically, in Jerusalem. These followers included the eleven, Jesus’ mother and brothers, and other men AND women, who had spent ten days in conversation, praying ‘Come, Holy Spirit Come’ with increasing impatience.
But, which Holy Spirit are they praying will come…
… the calming, comforting presence;
… the driving force, the motor, that will drive the Jesus movement forward gently;
… or the wild, uncontrollable source of inspiration and action.
Suddenly, a violent wind blows through the room. WHOA!
Suddenly, tongues (or flames) of fire rest upon the 120 men AND women. WHOA!
Suddenly, this chaos grabs the attention of the crowd outside. Jews of EVERY nation. WHOA!
Suddenly, the 120 are forced from the building, into the world witnessing to Christ in word and deed. WHOA!
Suddenly, the 120 can be understood by ALL in their native languages. WHOA!
Suddenly, Peter begins to preach and 3000 in the crowd join the Jesus movement. WHOA!
Apparently, it was the wild, uncontrollable Holy Spirit of inspiration and action that arrived. The Holy Spirit that most, especially mainline traditions, are the LEAST comfortable.
Jesus had promised that the Holy Spirit would wash over and baptize the followers.
Jesus had promised that the Holy Spirit would empower them to witness in word and deed.
Jesus had promised that their witness would be a ripple effect: Judea to Samaria, Samaria to the ends of the earth.
Pentecost is not the birthday of the church, or the assembly of faithful in heart and spirit, but it is our ‘Empowerment’ Day. The Holy Spirit that arrived on scene is the untamed poured out upon ALL flesh as foretold by the prophet Joel, which empowers the ordinary to witness to Jesus in word and deed. AND it is poured out upon all people EQUALLY!
These original 120 were available for the Holy Spirit, who emboldened these to leave the comfort and safety of their room to witness to the crowd.
The Holy Spirit had gathered the crowd by demanding and capturing their attention with the chaos.
The Holy Spirit opened the hearts of 3,000 persons to receive the preached Word through Peter.
The Holy Spirit was poured out on men and women.
The Holy Spirit enabled men and women to witness to Jesus.
The Holy Spirit opened the hearts of people, men & women, from EVERY NATION.
The Holy Spirit broke down each barrier that divides people allowing us to love all our neighbors. As Christians, we proclaim all equally loved by God who created all; thus, they are to be equally loved by us.
Again, the Holy Spirit tears down each barrier and fills each canyon that seeks to divide us. These include, but are not limited to:
- Race, Ethnicity, and Nationality;
- Biological Sex, Gender Identity, and Sexuality;
- Socio-Economic Status;
- Religious Adherence – Christian, non-Christian, or lack thereof; and
- Political Affiliation.
But, humans are sinful critters and too often find comfort in these divisions, because unfortunately we define ourselves in opposition to the ‘other’. Thus, we tend to fuel a fire that destroys ourselves.
However, the fire of the Holy Spirit is purifying for it destroys racism, sexism, classism, ageism, and any prejudice and intolerance that harms the human family. The fire of the Holy Spirit demands our rising from those ashes, like a Phoenix, emboldened to seek justice, act with compassion and mercy, to love our siblings, and to serve and serve the interest of our most vulnerable siblings.
I envision that the eleven, Jesus’ family, and those followers desired to change their prayer that Pentecost from ‘Come, Holy Spirit, Come’ to ‘Whoa, Holy Spirit, Whoa’.
And, we echo that ‘Whoa, Holy Spirit, Whoa’.
On that Pentecost, the church was forced from their comfort and into the world.
Pentecost 2020, the church is clamoring to return to the comfort of their sanctuaries.
On that Pentecost, the world gathered together despite gender and nationality.
Pentecost 2020, our world is perhaps as divisive as ever before.
On that Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was invited, prayed for, and embraced.
On Pentecost 2020, we seek to tame the Holy Spirit for our own comfort.
Similar to the 120, our prayer quickly goes from ‘Come, Holy Spirit, Come’ to ‘Whoa, Holy Spirit, Whoa’, for it stirs us awake, inspires us to action, and pushes us from our comfort for the sake of our siblings, the creation, and the kingdom to come.
Our siblings, the world, and the creation need us to change our invitation to and prayer for the Holy Spirit embracing:
Come, Holy Spirit…
the violent wind, untamed fire, attention-grabbing chaos
that awakens and stir us from our comfort
to send us into the world to end all divisions and embrace our differences…