As I stepped onto the beach from the shelter of the trees, a big gust of wind nearly blew me over. The pups, Lily and Lexi, who had run ahead, suddenly darted back and tried to jump into my arms. This high wind was something they weren’t used to and they were looking for protection while they figured it out.
As we have been at the beach this week, the wind has been blowing a lot, as is common on the coast. The wind has been much on my mind, but not just the wind that has been blowing my golf ball away from the middle of the green or blowing sand in the pups’ faces on the beach.
I’ve been thinking about the wind of the Holy Spirit as the Great Fifty Days of Easter crescendo to the explosion Sunday, the day of Pentecost! In the Book of Acts 2:1-11 we heard the story of the sudden rush of a violent wind from heaven that was the catalyst that exploded Christianity throughout the world.
“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.”
We all know the rest of the story. The discouraged and sad disciples were lost and confused. Jesus was gone and they were probably having a pity party for themselves. What were they to do? Their hopes and dreams were gone. Would they be next to hang on a cross?
Then, all of a sudden, a holy hurricane swept into their lives and they were transformed forever. All the very different folks gathered together that day were transformed into one body as they somehow now spoke a common language and understood each other. Instead of being scared, discouraged and lost, they were now bold, secure and had a clear sense of direction. Luke, who is credited with writing the Book of Acts, reports that about 3,000 were added to the church. Wow! Every preacher, pastor or priest in Augusta would give their eye teeth to have a revival like that. Unfortunately, that is probably not going to happen Sunday. The celebration and consideration of Pentecost will not receive much attention this year, which is too bad.
I see Pentecost and all of the subsequent events recorded in the Book of Acts as important to the Christian story as everything we learn in the first four books of the New Testament! In Matthew, Mark, Luke and John we learn the Good News – The Gospel of God in Christ. Pentecost and the Acts story is especially important since we learn the Good News of God in the Holy Spirit. The Acts story is our story. A story of transformation of folks just like all of us. Folks emboldened by the Spirit to take on the world about us and change it!
I know the Holy Spirit is hard to grasp – I think God intended it that way. Maybe this will help. In the beginning, God created with his breath (Spirit).
He breathed (Spirit) into Adam and he became a living being.
Jesus released his last breath as he died on the cross and said, “It is finished.” Some of His last breath returned on that first day of Pentecost and became renewed life, energy and purpose for all of us.
Perhaps the next time you are lost, confused and scared this little prayer may help: “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth.”
The Rev. Joe Bowden is the assisting priest at Church of the Good Shepherd.