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. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Acts 2:2-4 (NRSV)
This coming Sunday is Pentecost when we remember the bold entrance of the Holy Spirit on the disciples. They had no idea what to expect, and I’m sure they were far from prepared for the scene that unfolded, but then, the Spirit of God doesn’t care about proper entrances or meeting our expectations – thank goodness!
For years I missed the word “violent” when referring to the sound of wind. I remember being on Cape Cod when Hurricane Bob “whirled” through. We had boarded up the house and sat with the radio on (since there was no electricity). My friend’s dogs were quite anxious and agitated and panted through the whole event. In the end, the hurricane force, violent winds, hadn’t damaged our neighborhood as much as it had other places.
The church I was serving had not been damaged, but the effects of “Bob” were much more visible since the hurricane had traveled up the Cape Cod Canal. I remember the sound. The wind was so strong that it shook the house, brought down trees – actually uprooting some – and it left some destruction in its wake. Fortunately, no lives were lost because, for the most part, people paid attention to the weather people who kept informing us about how to deal with a hurricane and to be sure we were prepared.
At one point, when the eye of the hurricane was overhead, we stepped outside. The sky was an eerie yellow color, and it was so calm that we could have heard a pin drop. When the back end of the hurricane came through, the winds were even stronger. We were thankful that we only lost power for a short amount of time, and it gave me the opportunity to travel to the church to see how things were there.
Because we didn’t have electricity in the entire area, we ended up getting the word out that people could come to the church where we would pool our food and grill whatever people wanted to bring. The church’s kitchen had a gas stove, and several people brought their gas grills. One woman brought everything she had from her freezer because it had thawed, so we gathered as church and community to share a meal by candlelight in the basement of the church. Community was built, and laughter filled the room.
I wonder. What if the hurricane had not come through. Would we have found the same connection somewhere along the way? Or did the “negative” of the hurricane open doors for people to share and laugh and eat and enjoy together? It seems to me that the latter is what happened.
What if the disciples hadn’t trusted what Jesus asked them to do? The church wouldn’t exist today. In spite of all the negatives in the news and from folks who see organized religion as an outdated institution that has little to offer, “Church” really boils down to the people. The Spirit is at work in our churches – at least a fair number of them. The Spirit TRIES to be at work in others.
What if – what if we really embraced this Sunday’s message that the Church – that means all of us – can really share the powerful message in the world. What if the rush of a violent wind were to sweep through our churches this Sunday and send us spilling into the streets, anxious to go home, to work, to our families, to our friends, to our other organizations and really live out our faith in the world? What if we really believed that the Spirit would open doors for us to connect together and with others as we seek to be faithful in our walk with Jesus, the Christ?
What if we trusted Jesus’ instructions and teachings so that we can truly BE the church in the world? What if we stopped being afraid of sharing our faith? What if we allowed ourselves to be “blown away” by the Spirit?