Lectionary Reflection for the Day of Pentecost, Year A
June 8, 2014
When the day of Pentecost had come they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Acts 2:1-2
Go ahead! Get your red out. Bedeck your worship space with geraniums and other red flowers. Give the children red streamers to wave. Be festive. Celebrate. Praise God. For today is the day when the church sees red, and in doing so knows it is led by the winds of the wild, untamed Spirit of God.
The only other appropriate response is sheer terror in the face of such amazing power encountered in Word, wind, and holy fire. God will not leave us–to be sure–but the Divine One will not be domesticated by us either. The whole notion of being filled with God’s own Spirit is a wonderful yet timorous thing to comprehend, and I’m not sure we do it justice in our worshiping communities.
Consider what the writer Annie Dillard has to say in her book Teaching a Stone to Talk:
On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return .”
Dillard nails this whole idea of being God’s Spirit-filled folk. It’s dangerous, heady stuff. We are indeed playing with fire, and no other day of the church year than Pentecost Sunday is better for shaking sinner/saints from complacency so that we can see, smell, hear, and taste the goodness of God before being charged once again with the impossible task of going into the world to live as God’s beloved people.
Yes, what we are charged with doing is impossible if we try to go it alone. We need the beloved community. We need the edification of the saints and fine fellowship and encouragement found in the Body of Christ. It makes sense to bring our humble gifts of time, talent, and treasure to God’s potluck of grace. But again, we need more than each other. We need that advocate to goad us into action and to pull hard on the reins when we need it.
Without the gift of the Spirit we would have to lock ourselves up in some 21st century equivalent of the upper room for fear of all manner of things. But Jesus has breathed into us the gift of the Spirit at the moment of our baptism. Unseen, that spark of the Divine began to kindle and smoulder within. It never leaves us, even when we try to quench it with the lures and wiles of the world; still it burns.
Yes, the Spirit of God is still doing new things amongst God’s people, even when we cling stubbornly to nostalgia, the status quo, and the small sliver of reality that we know. Thankfully, God is bigger than any of that, and still desirous of a real relationship with us and all of the good creation. So come Sunday, may we all see red. May we be moved afresh by the Spirit’s presence among us, and may we tremble not in fear–but rather in anticipation of what God might have in store for us next. Let’s get this discipleship party started!
Photos: Waiting for the Word, Wesley Fryer, and St. Jude’s Photos, Creative Commons.