It was the fiftieth day after the resurrection, and the disciples were on their own. They prayed for guidance and yearned for the coming of God’s Spirit. They waited with expectation. And, then out of the blue, their world was turned upside down. They experienced a spiritual tsunami – the room shook, a mighty wind blew, and fiery tongues alighted on each one of them.
They had been praying for resurrection power, for the coming of the Holy Spirit, but now that it was here, and they were amazed, astonished, and overwhelmed. The winds of the Spirit blew them into the streets and in the streets they discovered that the barriers of language and ethnicity had been overcome. Everyone understood God’s good news. It was so crazy, that some of the onlookers thought they were drunk, although the hour was only 9:00 a.m.
A mighty wind blew breaking down every barrier and inviting everyone to be part of God’s Shalom kingdom. Guided by wisdom greater than his own, Peter begins to preach, with words reflecting the Spirit’s power and call to unity:
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,
and your young men shall 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 they shall prophesy.
Everyone gets the Spirit – rich and poor, male and female, old and young, slave and free, and any other contrasting group – the outsiders become insiders and the insiders rejoice.
No human divisions can limit God’s grace: Everyone who calls upon God will be saved.
At a recent meeting of our Christianity and World Religion’s class here at church, one of the members noted, “I can understand the Father and Jesus the Son, but the Holy Spirit is just too fuzzy for me. It’s not concrete enough, or clear-cut.”
Indeed, the Holy Spirit is hard to pin down. In John 3, Jesus says the Spirit (or wind) blows where it will and no one knows where it will go next. The Spirit is right here in our hearts – as the voice of conscience, God’s guiding presence, and the source of courage and wisdom. It is also at times fiery and awakens us to deeper, almost mystical experiences of God. We can’t confine the Spirit – when we try to put it in a box, it always finds a way to get out into the world.
Romans 8:22-27 describes the Holy Spirit as global and personal. All creation groans toward re-creation and renewal, and so does the spirit within us. Nature is wounded and so are we, and the Spirit wants to bind up our wounds and get us on the right path as healed and whole and ready to serve others.
Romans 8 contains one of my favorite passages from scripture – Listen again: Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
I don’t know exactly what Paul meant with these words, but I do know that these words tell us that God is as near as our next breath; they tell us that God’s wisdom is our deepest reality and that we are constantly receiving divine guidance. They tell us that God’s Spirit is praying with us and within us, praying in our prayers and giving us wisdom to face the challenges of today. They tell us that God’s Spirit is interceding on our behalf, answering our prayers and guiding us to be the answer to the prayers of others…..
Psalm 150 counsels, “let everything that breathes praise God.” And that’s Paul’s affirmation as well – the Spirit belongs to God, not to us and not to the church or even Christianity. It is God’s gift to all creation – creation groans toward wholeness and so do we. We aren’t separated from the non-human world….God loves our children and grandchildren, and the baby osprey, God delights in the rainbow and the monarch butterfly…God’s Spirit moving within animates all creation, seeking beauty in the delicate ecology of life.
So today, mighty winds may not blow through our church, but we can encounter God in gentle Cape Cod breezes and experience God’s healing touch in every calming breath. Listen – listen deeply – the Spirit speaks within you…in sighs too deep for words.
Listen to the Spirit and let the Spirit guide you to faithfully become God’s partners today and every day in healing the world.