Our Pentecost

Leaving aside the more cinematic elements of that first Pentecost, what was it about the inside of that explosive event, what were the necessary and necessarily hidden conditions that allowed it to happen?

The condition for this new thing to happen amongst the disciples was stability in the ordinary things. There the disciples were, all in one place, waiting expectantly with prayer, day in and day out as the Lord had commanded them on the Mount of Olives. And there was no knowing when the thing they were waiting for would happen, or even exactly what it would be.

Second, there is the astonishing fact that the Holy Spirit of Jesus takes very seriously our part in the renewal of all things. Jesus comes among the disciples on that first night and showing them his wounds says to them, “Peace be with you”—as if this greeting is not amazing enough in itself, given the circumstances of the last three days. No, as if this is not enough, Jesus catapults the disciples into the shock of spiritual adulthood by telling them he is sending them as he himself had been sent. “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven, if you retain the sins of any they are retained.” What we do here, God takes seriously.

What we do here in the power of the Holy Spirit, God goes with and works with. But all the time God’s Holy Spirit continues to train us, recreating us in holiness so that we can indeed go about in the world in the way that Jesus did and does. To join the ends of these two thoughts together: this re-training, in and by the Holy Spirit, requires of us the humility of stability in the daily things, the ordinary things, so we can be dry-cured enough, thirsty enough, ready enough to receive the spark of the new when it comes—and empowered to change the world with the creativity, persistence, and hope which the Spirit alone can give.

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