Blogging the Lectionary--Pentecost Sunday

Acts 2: 1-21
Psalm 104
1 Cor 12: 3-13
John 20: 19-23

The disciples knew, or at least had some idea, that this was coming.  Jesus told them that the Holy Spirit was coming.  But they would have been forgiven for thinking that this was going to be a private experience.  And it was a private experience, in the sense that it was just them in the room when the Holy Spirit came.

But it didn't stay the way for long.  As soon as the Spirit arrived, the disciples went out and spread their message to the multicultural gathering of Jews in town for the feast of Pentecost.  But even that was not the full scope of what was happening, as Peter quoted from the prophet Joel:

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. 

In other words, this coming of the Spirit was coming for everyone.  Men and women, old and young, slaves and free--the Spirit was going to transcend all of those categories.  This was not going to be something for the socially respectable alone.  And the sober guardians of the established ways, those that like to put things in neat little boxes are going to be challenged.  The person that you least expect is going to prophesy, or see visions, or dream dreams.

The Spirit is coming for everyone, and things are going to get weird.

In light of the warning Peter is given the Jews of Jerusalem (and, by extension, us), it seems to me that we should be very careful before we declare anyone to be beyond the pale.  We should not say "this person is not the kind of person we expect to be speaking for God, so we can ignore him or her."  Nor should we say "what they are saying is not the kind of thing we are used to hearing, so we can ignore it."  Nor even "this person seems crazy, so we can discount what he or she says."

None of that is reliable in this new world of the Spirit.  This person that seems crazy or challenges the established order may have the Spirit poured into them.  They may be prophesying, or dreaming dreams.  We discount them at our own peril.

Many of us like church to be a place of stability, of security--an anchor for our lives.  There's nothing wrong with that in and of itself.  But, in pursuit of this stability, we can't close off the dynamic and unpredictable nature of the Spirit.  Where the Spirit blows, things get weird.  Our church should reflect that.  


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