Last week I shared a thought on how we sometimes overlook the place of the Ascension in the life of the Church. I suggested to do so was rendering the life of Jesus an incomplete story, much like a book that had the las pages missing. This week, we arrive at the final pages and complete the story. On Sunday we will celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the one who Jesus told the disciples would follow him. Gathered in that upper room, the disciples receive the Spirit of God which is described as sounding like a rushing wind and tongues of fire that rested on each of the disciples. Their lives are transformed, and the rest of the Book of Acts records some of the many actions of the disciples as they live out their lives.
Lots of people struggle with the work of the Spirit of God in their lives. I once heard Fr Michael Grace, a Catholic priest, describe it in this way, it has stuck with me ever since. Imagine yourself walking through a rainforest. Though it isn’t raining at the time, you would know with certainty that the rain falls there frequently, the lushness of the vegetation and the vibrancy of the life around you testify to the presence of the rain. We may not be able to see the Holy Spirit, but the life-giving power of the Spirit is seen in God’s people and in God’s Church. It testifies to God’s unseen power as plainly as the rainforest testifies to the presence of the rain.
In, ‘Morning has Broken,’ the hymn that was made well known by the singer Cat Stevens, we find this great image in the second verse. ‘Sweet the rain’s new fall sunlit from heaven, like the first dewfall on the first grass.’ It brings to mind the gentle power of God’s Spirit descending as if from nowhere bringing refreshment, bringing light and peace. Oh yes, sometimes we can experience the presence of God in a powerful Pentecost moment that drives us out from the upper room of our lives, from the fears and doubts, out into the world. But more often than not, the Spirit of God falls upon us in a gentle moment like the dewfall bringing refreshment and a sense of peace.
Wherever you are this Pentecost Sunday, I pray that the Spirit of God descends upon you once again. If you are witnessing with confidence, then I pray that God’s spirit adds power to your words and actions. If you are still trapped in the upper room of life, aware of the barrier that separates you from God, then I pray you hear the gentle voice whispering, Peace be with you. If instead of a rain forest you find yourself walking in a desert, then I pray that the Spirit of God will be that life-giving dewfall that can bring flowers to bloom in the barren land.
Perhaps this can be your prayer this week? Holy Spirit, unpredictable as the wind, unquenchable as fire, yet gentle as the morning dew, come now and breathe new energy into my life and new life into my soul, by your gracious power. Amen
Shalom to you my friend,