Sunday, June 12, 2011

Whoosh! There It Is!

I enjoy Pentecost, or as we in the Anglican world like to call it Whitsunday.  It's like another Christmas, only this time we aren't in awe of a babe in the manger.  Instead, we're getting our socks knocked off with the rush of a mighty wind and tongues of fire.  In some churches, this drama gets played out in the reading of Acts 2: 1-21 with a lector beginning:

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place...

And from various parts of the church, you'll hear what comes next.  Languages, many different languages, all saying the same statement.

Und als der Tag der Pfingsten erfühlt war...
Mentre il giorno di Pentecoste stava per finire...
Quand le jour de la Pentecôte arriva ...

It's a cacophony of surround sound.  Maybe you can pick out a word or two.  But not usually.  Once those tongues start flapping, it's chaos.
Perhaps that's how it sounded in the upper room when the Holy Spirit arrived and rested on all in the place to provide them with the words they would need to speak of their belief in Christ.  But I think the words aren't what was the most important in that dramatic moment.  I think they were excited babblings of something intense happening within the breast of each of those individuals.  These yammering individuals were infused with the flames of passion that was informed by their intellect and their experience.  
We get a great example of that in Peter.  As folks witnessed this crazy scene of people talking a mile a minute, they wondered if the group of them had tossed back a few too many, accounting for this excited talk.  Peter, who I think of as the disciple who was always striving for the gold star from his teacher Jesus, finally delivers a speech in which he's not just saying the right words; he is speaking from a depth of conviction that I maintain wasn't there so much in the gospels.  He lays it out there, quoting from the prophet Joel as his "proof", that the man killed by the Romans was the Son of God.
In many respects, I see the Holy Spirit continuing to rush in to closed spaces to bust open people and make them pour forth with the truth of themselves.  I think that's what has been happening in the Church during these last several years.  How we respond to that Spirit determines if its arrival is good and joyful... or a painful and agonizing challenge.  The pain comes in the attempt to subvert the Spirit or control it and make it behave the way we want it to behave.  We want to be rational, not babbling.  We want to appear respectable, not chaotic.   We want to hide in our locked rooms because there are people out there who are ready to kill us for being who we are.  The story of Pentecost is one that says, "Sorry Charlie; God doesn't work that way!"
When the Spirit of God, which is a Spirit of Love, moves in and takes residence in our beings, the locks on the prison doors of self-hatred and self-denial and self-centeredness are broken and tossed off.  And we are released, ready or not, granted the liberation of being freed by the new advocate sent to be with us to the end of the age.  We may not have the physical person of Jesus Christ to hold our hands and break the bread at our table, but we have the Spirit which was part of him and united him with God the creator.  At Pentecost, we celebrate that Spirit's arrival to burn within us.
Where is the Spirit going to carry us?  There is no limit when we allow it to move freely.  Feel the love. Experience the passion.  And be alive and awake.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Liked this a great deal. We didn't speak in tongues but we did have baptisms. So the Holy Spirit was working