READINGS: ACTS OF THE APOSTLES 2: 1-11; I COR. 12: 3b-7, 12-13; JOHN 20:19-23.
Pentecost is often celebrated as the ‘birthday of the Church’ which is true but only a partial recognition of what this day is about. We hear in today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles about the Pentecost event when early believers of Jesus were meeting. But this meeting was not like the inauguration of any normal business or group for there were no solemn speeches, no ‘ five-year plan’, and no clear ‘mission statements’. This was a gathering of believers who were hiding out with doors locked; they were fearing repercussions from the Jewish leaders. Fear was the common denominator of this motley crew of early followers of Jesus; fear brought together a multi-ethnic group but not for mission but to seek a safe place. So this is the ‘birthday of the Church’?
As Paul Harvey used to say (I am dating myself 🙂 ) “Now for the rest of the story!” In this rather somber setting, the unpredicted happened the Holy Spirit moved amongst the people, inspiring, giving courage, and demonstrating this presence with a ‘gift of tongues. The Holy Spirit came in a ‘strong, driving wind’ which for the Jewish hearers of this story would bring echoes of the creation story in Genesis; here the Spirit is again creating, not a new world, but the Church, a new presence in the world to continue the presence of Christ in history.
So today we celebrate the Church’s birth but not as a human creation but as a gift of the Holy Spirit who transformed a cowering group of people from many nations into disciples on fire for the Lord, casting aside fear, and eager to share the Kingdom with everyone.
Now that is something to celebrate the Holy Spirit leading us out of fear not to a sense of false safety but to action so the work and message of Jesus is carried on through history by the Body of Christ, the Church.
Today, let us pray for the Holy Spirit to move us and the Church from fear to love in action to tell, as well as show by our lives, others about the freedom that comes from Christ.
On this Pentecost, please remember Mission Doctors in prayer and through donations as they fight off fears in order to heal God’s poor around the world.