Turned Outward Notes from Pastor Patrick

Notes from the pastor


Read Acts 2:1–21

When the day of Pentecost arrives the disciples of Jesus have been waiting and praying some days for the Spirit to come, just as Jesus commanded them before he ascended into heaven. They waited and they prayed, but nothing could have prepared them for this. The Holy Spirit bursts forth unbridled in power like a rushing wind turning these reflective, waiting disciples outward to their new mission: to be joined to their neighbors and their enemies through the common goods of food, prayer, language, and mutual respect and submission to one another.

On Pentecost Jesus’s disciples become preachers in “other tongues” among a diverse people that think the disciples are drunk. People hear the gospel in their own languages. They’re caught up in the intimate union of God the Spirit with human flesh. And out of this ecstatic moment comes much fruit. Peter, for example, goes against his better judgment at the behest of the Spirit to meet the presence of Jesus in a Roman, Gentile family and baptizes them. Philip gets pulled away from the work he’s doing in Samaria to encounter an Ethiopian eunuch on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Stephen, new to the faith, finds himself on trial before the Sanhedrin, and preaches a sermon that gets him stoned to death. Paul goes from being a murderous, rampaging Pharisee to Jesus’s primary messenger to the nations. Lydia is pressed to use her business acumen to lead and fund the ministry that establishes the church in Philippi. The Holy Spirit of Pentecost — the same Spirit that fills us with Jesus today — is wild, blustery, and pushy, knitting people of all kinds together as the community of Jesus.

Pentecost is a miracle that employs mouths and bodies, God joining strangers in an experience of togetherness that for a moment expresses his peace in the bonds of love and justice. Estranged peoples understand one another, hear one another, touch one another. Jew to Jew, Jew to Gentile, Church to World.

One of my favorite teachers explained what’s going on in Acts by observing that in the course of the narrative almost no one is doing what they want to do. In fact, everyone is being led by the Spirit to do exactly what they don’t want to do and to desire the very people they want to despise. And it all begins with the revolution of intimacy that erupts on Pentecost.

The Spirit doesn’t come as a whisperer asking for permission to act on you, “Are you ready, Peter?” “Does this work for you, Mary?” No. “A sound from heaven like the howling of a fierce wind filled the entire house where they were sitting.” There’s no permission, no checking readiness, no consideration of comfort, only the rushing, the pressing, and most importantly, the empowering. The same Spirit calls and presses and draws on us the same as with the first apostles: toward the future that God desires, a future in which we the body of Jesus are turned out to the world.

The wind of the Spirit turns us out into the uncomfortable, the unknown, the unimaginable, yes. But the good news is that it’s the Holy Spirit who turns us out: God’s powerful, abiding presence with us, upon us, in us. When that happens, walls of segregation can become tables of grace where people gather to share in the greater gift of life in Christ.

Where is the Spirit-wind blowing you?

Pastor Patrick

Last Published: May 22, 2018 3:15 PM
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