Before we dive in, a word of explanation: what follows is a brief reflection on the Christian season of pentecost. If this word or idea is new to you, read first the biblical account in Acts 2 and/or watch this quick explainer from Chuck Knows Church
I lay in bed on Monday night. It had been a busy few days. I was tired. I always feel tired. Still, sleep eluded me.
As I lay there I heard a sound that’s become so familiar to us in Brisbane this year that I have to say I’m sick of it: the sound of rain drops falling on the tree outside my bedroom window. At first a gentle patter, then growing louder as the drops themselves became heavier. That oh-too-familiar sound.
There was something different this time though. It wasn’t only the sound of rain I could hear, but a new sound. An insistent sound. A sound coming from the distance, but getting closer and closer.
And then, with a rush, in an instant, it seemed, it arrived. The wind. The wind we knew was coming because we have the benefits of modern meteorology.
The wind arrived and the rain was gone, the tree instead responding to this new stimulus. It swirled and swayed and dashed itself against the side of the house. The tree danced with the wind. This wind that had moments before been only a promise, only an idea, only an anticipation.
A door banged shut. A casement window creaked. Curtains swirled.
The air in my bedroom moved as if the tree itself, right outside my window, was breathing.
I couldn’t, of course, see the wind. But if I had turned on the light I’d have been able to see the impact it had on the tree, see the curtains dancing to its tune.
I couldn’t see the wind, but I could feel it. The movement, the temperature, the change.
I snuggled down under my doona, listening to the tree speak of the wind, listening to the house breathe differently. Soon enough I slept.
When I woke the next morning and went out into the world, everything felt different. The wind had changed things. I could feel it, see it, smell it even.
This Sunday is the day the Christian church celebrates Pentecost. Like Easter, or Christmas, or Ash Wednesday it’s a story we know so well that at times I wonder if we can lose sight of it, lose track of its meaning, lose the delight or challenge of this story, this time, this movement of God.
Maybe that will be true this year as well, or maybe not.
As I sat on that Tuesday thinking about the arrival of the wind the night before, I got to wondering how much this might have been like Pentecost for the first disciples.
They didn’t have scientific forecasting of course, but if they’d been listening Jesus had promised the coming of the spirit. Maybe they hadn’t or couldn’t listen. Maybe they didn’t know what he meant.
The coming of the Spirit brought new life. The world was suddenly different. The disciples themselves – maybe they breathed differently. Maybe the community of Christ suddenly felt like it was swirling and swaying and dancing with the Spirit.
Of course they couldn’t see the Spirit either, like I couldn’t see the wind. But they could see, hear, feel that something was different.
For the first time since Jesus departure, the gospel is preached in public. Not behind four walls and in the privacy of the gathered Christ community, but out in the open, by the whole Christ community, and for everybody that had ears to hear.
Recently in the lectionary, that cyclical, careful walk through scripture, we reflected on Jesus calling Peter, challenging him by the campfire on the beach after his own resurrection: “Do you love me?” Jesus asked? “Do you love me? Do you love me?” And then the invitation: “Feed my lambs. Take care of my sheep. Feed my sheep.”
And here’s Peter, days, weeks maybe after that BBQ, here’s Peter, like the tree outside my bedroom window bending itself to the wind, here’s Peter bending himself to the Spirit. In an instant the Spirit comes. Her arrival is unmistakable, Her impact undeniable. Peter feels it. Dances to the wind.
And so, I wonder, if it will be the same for us? For you? For me? Will I bend myself to the very breath of God, to the wind of the Spirit? Will I respond to Jesus call to me?
Will this Pentecost be one that I notice again the sudden coming of the Spirit? Will you?