We pray for our making Jesus larger and more visible in this shrinking world. We pray that all Christians become more the church based on the excitement and preaching of the early apostles. We pray that the Spirit of the One God will mend Christ’s fractured body and that all who speak various languages will one day understand each other more compassionately.
We need an inflation, an expanding economy of God’s Spirit and a more personal investment with high interest and great returns, that our world will be God’s Kingdom.
Fifty days have passed since the Jews, now gathered together for the second great feast of the year, celebrated the first feast which is the Passover or Feast of the Unleavened Bread. The last of these will be a final harvest thanksgiving. Fifty days for the spring wheat and grains to have ripened and now are presented before the Lord. All the farmers of this agricultural community acknowledge their radical dependence upon God’s care in sending rain and sun.
Luke pictures the raining down of God’s Spirit within the context of this Jewish agricultural festival. They are gathered to send up their prayers for all that has grown in their fields. God sends the Spirit of growth so that there will be even more produce, but of a new kind. The newness is that while the sun and rain bring forth fruit of the fields; the Holy Spirit will bring forth a completion of creation as the ultimate expression of God’s love. The people are gathered to praise and thank God. Luke, in this Book of Acts, will picture the Spirit moving them out and beyond the territory of the Jews so as to bless and bring about the final harvest of God’s peace and justice. They all speak different languages, which is a consequence of the Tower of Babble. They will continue speaking their various languages, but the message is to go out from them to all the world.
In today’s Gospel, we hear John’s account of Jesus’ sending, or “breathing” the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. As in Luke’s account in Acts, there is a gathering. John’s version has the group hiding for fear, but both, upon reception of the Spirit, are blest and then “sent”. Jesus’ breathing the Spirit echoes Genesis’ description of the creating God breathing form out of the abyss of nothingness. For John, the process of creation is to extend God’s peace to the, now “deformed” world.
The Holy Spirit comes constantly from the ever-loving Trinity. We are not praying in such a way that maybe God will breathe again upon our creation. We celebrate that we might be open to the Spirits’ work of giving Christ new dimensions, new visibility and new gestures of revelation within us as individuals and us as God’s people. We are praying in celebration that God is constantly sending the “breath” upon; this is not a maybe. What we do pray is that we may be more open to the Spirit’s creating of us.
We use an expression for those who think too highly of themselves: “That person has an inflated self-image.” What that means literally is that he/she is full of “air”, coming from the Latin word for wind, “flatus”. We might say, “hot air”. “Deflation” means the air has “run out”. What the early Apostles heard sounded like a strong wind and Jesus breathed air upon the hiding eleven. The Spirit was not in-flating, but in-carnating.
Pentecost is a celebration of the fruitfulness of the land, blest by the sun and rain and “breath” of God. In the Christian community, we celebrate how the Spirit, “wind” of God has “in-spirited” human hearts to live “highly” of themselves. The work of the Spirit is that all creation and that includes human beings, radiate, in-flesh Jesus. As the Spirit came upon Mary whose womanhood gave him flesh, so that same Spirit hovers over our bodies that Jesus might take new flesh. We think highly of ourselves all right, but not full of air, but Spirit, not totally Jesus yet, but the Spirit is not done with us.
Recently there was a news item about, of all things, an inflatable church. It sounded both crazy and interesting, but anything is possible. I am not kidding. This is not exactly the kind of church to which Pentecost is calling us.
The early Apostles, “air-borne” in a sense, flew outward from hiding into humanity, from amorphous shame into figures of faith.
No balloons or blimps are we. This day we re-up for loving the flesh-bound “bone house” that gives Jesus attractiveness for all whom he meets through us. As he went about, blest by the Spirit at his anointing, so we do not float, but walk, run, limp, wheelchair, crawl, or sit, and give his light our personal refraction. The Church now, as were the first Apostles, is full of its blessed self when it longs and labors to inspire God’s good earth to bring forth fruits of holiness - not hollowness, substance not emptiness.
From the breathing of God over the chaos, through the overshadowing by the Holy Spirit over the emptiness of Mary’s womb, through this event of the sending of the Spirit upon the apostles, and in our own days, the work of the Spirit is “incarnation” or visibility, or the revelation in each of our lives, that the mysterious God desires to show off.
“They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke of the great things God had done.” Acts 2, 4
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