We've had some great, rushing winds, but they brought in waves of rain, not the Holy Spirit--more reminiscent of Noah and the ark, not a day of Pentecost. I'm in charge at church today, so I'm a bit fretful about flooded streets, but I'll trust that it will all work out.
Many churches approach Pentecost warily or not at all. Much like the unsettled weather we've been having in the past few years and decades, this holiday makes us unsettled. We say we invite the power of God into our world, but are we serious? If we look at the stories of what happens when God moves in the world, it's usually a time of upheaval, not comfort.
We often hear the stories of the early church--those believers going out in small groups, often pairs, taking very little with them, trusting in God and the communities they will find. If we resist the idea of Pentecost, perhaps it's because we don't want this outcome for ourselves. I think of Paul in prison, but I don't always remember the rescue. I focus on the part that scares me.
This year, at the Create in Me retreat, our Bible study leader Kevin Strickland had us look at the end of the book of John. He pointed out that the disciples have gone back to doing what they were doing before Jesus came to town: fishing. And they're unsuccessful. Jesus tells them to move the nets to the other side of the boat. They don't have to move to a new lake. They just have to do what they're already doing, but a bit differently.
If this was the Pentecost story, if we didn't have the book of Acts, would more of us invite God into our daily lives? Most churches focus on the stories of young men, Jesus and the disciples, all men in their 30's, men who forsake their families and throw away all their responsibilities to go follow Jesus. Simon Peter has a mother-in-law; we know of her existence when Jesus heals her. What happened to his family while he traipsed around with Jesus?
Pentecost stories are similar: lives overturned which is great for the history of the church, but perhaps not so great for the individuals involved. What if we had stories that told us that our dreams for ourselves can mesh with God's greatest dreams for humanity?
That story might comfort those of us who still have visions, but what if we feel hollowed out? What if we've forgotten how to dream?
Pentecost reassures us with the mystical promise of the Spirit. We do not have to know what we are doing; we just need to be open to the movement of the Spirit. Pentecost promises daring visions; we don’t have to know how we’re going to accomplish them. God will take care of that.
God became incarnate to prepare humans to carry on the work of Kingdom creation. And Pentecost reminds us of our job description, to let the Holy Spirit blow into our hollowed out spaces and to fill us with the fire to dream and the resources to bring our visions to life.
feeling the feelings…
1 year ago