“Send forth your Spirit, Lord, and renew the face of the earth.”FROM PSALM 104
The psalm appointed for today on the Feast of Pentecost says it all for me as I continue to live (as all of us do) in the midst of this pandemic.
I want to sense, to see, to notice and to work with the Spirit of God that unifies, renews and empowers us for the lives we are living and for the lives we will be living in next month or months, in the next year. And yet… I don’t have a picture of what the next month or year will look like. I only have today with its gifts (and there are gifts) and today with its worries.
In the story of Pentecost, a crowd of Jewish people whose languages were different, whose places of origins were different, and whose worries were many, caught a glimpse, just a glimpse, of a group of Jesus’ followers “under the influence,” so to speak, of a power greater than themselves. And this is how that power showed up: it showed up in people on fire with the story of God’s deeds of power, deeds of power that were manifest in bleak and unpromising circumstances. It also showed up in what those gathered heard: they heard about these deeds of power in their own languages, in an idiom that they understood. And, finally, it showed up in how these things were interpreted to them: Peter reminded those witnessing and listening to Jesus’ followers that, as outrageous as what they had seen and heard was, back of it was a God whose aim is a saving one.
None of us would have ever wanted to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost the way we will today—in an uncertain time from our homes rather than gathered together in our churches. But know this. God through the Holy Spirit is not just a fiery power those followers of Jesus experienced on that day long, long ago. God, the Holy Spirit is working through you now: in the yearning you have for relationships with others (family and friends and the great family that is the world), in the deeds of power that are shown to us in what at first appear to be bleak and unpromising circumstances (look for these!), and in the momentary glimpse we can sometimes get of a God who speaks to us in our language of God’s own desire to comfort, to renew and to save.