Lord Jesus Christ,
You call us to come
To be with you,
To hear your voice
To listen deeply to your word.
By your Spirit help me
To see you,
To hear your voice,
To follow you in all of life,
In the way of God’s gracious reality.
Day of Pentecost
The Lectionary Guide leads us back into Jerusalem where the followers of Jesus are gathered, probably in the upstairs room for prayer (Acts 1:12-14; 2:2). Prayer – being in the presence of God – is what anchors us during all of life, even in times of great trauma and change. Here in this place of prayerful waiting, the followers of Jesus can remember Jesus’ words to them before he suffered, and after the resurrection. They can reflect back on how Jesus helped them see and understand that his rejection, trial, suffering, death and resurrection were all part of God’s great design to rescue all persons and all of creation from captivity to the lie, to evil, to death. And they can remember how Jesus had told them to stay in Jerusalem after his return to the Father, until the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5). These followers still wondered when the kingdom would be restored to Israel; they still lamented the occupation of Israel by a pagan Roman power. But in response Jesus offers them guidance about not knowing. Some things we do not need to know, and we learn to live in that not knowing. What we are to know is God’s design for us as we live in the world: we will be empowered by the Holy Spirit – to be witnesses of Jesus: starting at home base(wherever our ‘Jerusalem’ is), and reaching out beyond to the ends of the earth. All the world is to learn of the great rescue operation of God through Jesus – until Jesus returns (Acts 1:10-11).
And so we wait with these early disciples as they pray in this upper room. The same room where they huddled in fear behind locked doors, and same room where Jesus appeared among them and said, “Peace be with you.”
We wait here and pray. And the Holy Spirit does come, just as Jesus said. On this day of Pentecost – this gracious and powerful Spirit comes from heaven with the sound of a mighty wind and fills the whole house where we are sitting. Tongues of fire show up among us, then divide and settle on each of us. And we hear ourselves speaking in languages we do not know.
And when the people hear this wind, and hear in their own languages of the mighty works of God, they begin to ask, “What does this mean?” This question echoes across other great thresholds in the great story of God’s people: as the people of God are about to be rescued from slavery in Egypt, God tells them to mark this journey to freedom with a meal, the Passover meal, and to mark the lintel and the doorposts of their houses with the shed blood of the lamb slaughtered and offered for the meal. And then Jahweh says, “You shall observe this meal as a perpetual ordinance for you and your children. And when your children ask you, ‘What do you mean by this observance?’ you shall say, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD . . . ;” the mighty work of God to free his people from slavery (Exodus 12:21-27). Again at the banks of the river Jordan, as these same people are about to cross over into the land of promise, God parts the waters, and instructs his people to choose stones from the river bed, and to pile them up on the western bank as they cross over. So that when their children see the stones and ask, “What do these stones mean?” these people of God will tell them of the mighty works of God, and how God cut off the waters of the Jordan so that all the people could cross over on dry land into the land of promise. (Joshua 4:6-7).
As we watch and listen to this same question being asked here on the streets of Jerusalem, Peter stands up among us, and answers the question: “In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit . . . and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:14-21). This is another mighty work of God, to send the Holy Spirit to be with us forever, as helper, counselor, guide, interpreter, comforter, advocate (John 14-16).
As we listen we realize that the scattering of persons and peoples at Babel (Genesis 11:1-9) into different languages across the world, is now reversed: for all persons can hear in their own language about the mighty works of God in Jesus (Acts 2:5-12); God is on the move in the world through the followers of Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit.
For your reflection:
Spend some time this week getting in touch with your own response to this work of God, the sending of the Holy Spirit to be in us and among us. In what way do you feel resistance, anxiety? In what way do you wonder what this could mean? In what way do you desire to welcome this gift and presence of Jesus among us?
Day of Pentecost
5/13 Monday: Acts 2:1-11
5/14 Tuesday: Acts 2:12-21
5/15 Wednesday: Psalm 104:24-34,35b
5/16 Thursday: Genesis 11:1-9
5/17 Friday: Romans 8:14-17
5/18 Saturday: Acts 2:1-11
5/19 Sunday: Acts 2:12-21