Life in the Spirit
When Jesus knew that his time on earth was drawing to a close, he made an astonishing promise. When he was no longer with the disciples, God would send an Advocate, the Holy Spirit, who would teach them everything they needed to know and would remind them of everything Jesus had already taught them. Furthermore when the Holy Spirit came, they would be empowered to be witnesses for Jesus to the whole world.
Just as Jesus had promised them, the Holy Spirit did come. It was quite an amazing event, even frightening in a way. The Spirit came as a huge wind that blew through the room they were all huddled in out of fear. And then they began seeing tongues of fire on one another’s heads. As if that were not enough, they began speaking in languages other than their own native tongue and people from other countries recognized and understood the disciples speaking to them. It was amazing.
This coming of God in a new way had an astonishing effect on this motley crew of disciples. Men who were frightened of the authorities and had spent their days huddled together hiding from them, suddenly were emboldened to go out and proclaim the risen Lord without fear for their own safety. And miracles began to happen. Peter spoke and three thousand people wanted to be baptized! A lame man who had been that way from birth stood up and walked because of the ministry of Peter and John.
That same Spirit, that same potential for the power of God is available to us today. And it is that coming of the Spirit, both historically and in our own lives, that we celebrate in the Episcopal Church on Pentecost Sunday. Praise God, it is through the Spirit that God continues to be Emmanuel, God with us. And praise God for the wonderful way that we celebrate that truth in our tradition.