Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Rush of a Mighty Wind

"And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting." (Acts 2:2) The coming of the Holy Spirit into the world after Jesus ascended into heaven is described as a sudden blast of wind. This description is rich in symbolism. The Holy Spirit, the Comforter of whom Christ speaks near the end of his earthly ministry, brings into the world the completion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is through the Holy Spirit that the Apostles begin to understand fully the teachings of Jesus. The Spirit emboldens them to begin to proclaim the Good News of the gospel that Jesus Christ came from the Father so that we might come to know the Father more intimately and to die and rise from the dead in reparation for our sins. The Spirit ushers in a new age of understanding, infusing believers with the zeal of the Good News.

Prior to this scene in the New Testament, the Apostles had huddled day after day in the very upper room where Jesus had celebrated with His followers the Last Supper. They were frightened. leaderless, and at a complete loss as to what to do next. These hours were not, however, idle hours. They were spent in intense prayer accompanied by the mother of Jesus, Mary. They looked to the Risen Lord for answers to their questions as to how to go about preaching the gospel to all nations. For nine days they prayed. For nine days nothing happened. Then on the tenth day while in prayer, this sudden rush of wind shook the room and, at the same time, the entire world. The Spirit, the Comforter, had arrived.

Immediately, the Apostles were transformed. Their fear, while not disappearing, faded into the background while the spirit of courage arose in them allowing them to speak to the crowds who had gathered in Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost. They spoke with conviction and authority. They spoke to the people who had come for the festival from all points of the known world in their own languages. Scripture tells us that all were amazed when they heard these men speak. While most believed, there were those detractors as usual who said, "They are filled with fine new wine." (Acts 2:13) In other words there were those who thought the Apostles were drunk.
This rush of wind transformed the world. The world would no longer be the same. Men's hearts would be opened. Love took on new meanings. And a God once far removed from man now became an intimate acquaintance. Courage to proclaim the truth contained in the gospels overrode fear.

We are today in desperate need of a sudden rush of wind, a wind propelled by a renewal of the Holy Spirit. We need the courage imparted by the Spirit to proclaim not only the good news of the gospel but the truth of the gospel as well. We need to open our hearts to the Spirit who, by the way, has never left the world, so that we may find the courage and understanding that the Apostles found on that Pentecost nearly 2,000 years ago.

We need to courage to challenge governments to do the right thing in places such as Darfuhr, Afghanistan, Iraq, and many other troubled lands. We need the courage to stand up for those who have been marginalized by society, who have no voice in American life because of their situations. We need the courage to point out the wrongs of society and offer constructive criticism and suggestions as to how to change things. We need the courage to reach out in love to all those with whom we may differ. We cannot allow our differences to drag us down into the mud of name calling and demonizing. We must make a concerted effort to find Christ in every man even thought it may be very, very difficult to do in some cases.

Like a cool summer's breeze, the rush of wind that is the Holy Spirit will cleanse our minds and our bodies, refreshing us and preparing us for the tasks ahead. It is the Spirit who inspires. It is the Spirit who guides. It is the Spirit who emboldens. It is the Spirit that teaches us what the real love of God is. We need this sudden rush of wind to circulate throughout the world, to infuse mankind with the knowledge of Jesus Christ and the message of His Gospel. On this eve of Pentecost, we pray for this sudden rush of wind. We pray that we will some day be able to live our lives in the Spirit, fearless and humbly bold in the name of Christ. As a prayer to the Holy Spirit says, "Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And you shall renew the face of the earth."