Sunday May 31, 2020 Pentecost Sunday (Cycle A)
The tie in between today’s readings: Good and Very Good
In the beginning, the Holy Spirit moved over the waters of a formless and void world. In six days, the Lord established His creation and it was good. Our reading in Psalm 104:1;24;29-32, praises and marvels at His handiwork in making and sustaining our earth. Just as a painting reflects the talents of the artist, our physical creation reflects the attributes of the invisible God. But the Lord was not satisfied with that. He wanted more than just the joy of creating. He looked beyond the angel’s astonished platitudes over His ability to fabricate a universe. He, like Geppetto in the story of Pinocchio, wished to have a relationship with His creation. He wanted to commune with His work, not just be the Master of it. He wanted to be more than just a guy with a fish tank. So, He scraped up some clay to produce one more masterpiece. He breathed His Spirit into it…and Adam became a living soul. The Spiritual God now had a dynamic connection with the material world. God’s very image was in man. Along with his wife Eve, they were mandated to be fruitful, multiply, and cover the skin of this planet with that image. It was very good.
Of course, we all know what happened next. As wonderful as love and free will are, they always leave the door open for heartbreak and rejection. However, the eternal omnipotent God of the universe never says, “Wow! Didn’t see that coming.” Rather, right after man’s rebellion in the Garden, God gave His promise of a way back. It wasn’t over. The Lord was not going to lose His masterpiece. Mankind struggled throughout history waiting for the promise of redemption to be fulfilled. Then at the right time it happened: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believed in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Jesus accomplished His mission. People have a way back to the Father in Christ.
The whole day was filled with wonder and confusion, as our reading in John 20:19-23 opens on the first Easter evening. His followers are still fearfully huddled behind a locked door when Jesus steps into the room with His greeting of, “Peace.” Recovering from their shock and full of joy, the disciples listen to their Master as He commissions them to go out to the world. They are Apostles now. Just as God breathed life into man, Jesus breathes on them and they receive the Holy Spirit. If the Church is the body of Christ, then the Holy Spirit is its Mind. They now have the ability and the authority to act on God’s behalf in this world concerning sin and salvation. Our Lord lives with them for forty more days and ascends into heaven. The Apostles wait in Jerusalem just as Jesus instructed. Something new was about to happen, something powerful, something…Holy Spirit.
For the Jews, Pentecost marked the end of the Passover season and the beginning of the first fruit harvest. With the redemptive work of Christ in the rear-view mirror and a world of souls ready to be reaped, it was the perfect time for the Holy Spirit to move into action. Our reading today in Acts 2:1-11 gives the account of His workings. Suddenly, a violent storm of wind fills the house where the fledgling church is assembled. Flaming tongues separate and fall on them like Fourth of July fireworks. Baptized in the Spirit, they begin to speak in the tongues of the Mind that fills them. They speak to the faithful who had gathered in Jerusalem for the feast, a laundry list of people from the nations of the world. Peter boldly declares the gospel of salvation in Jesus to them. That day a harvest of three thousand souls were brought into the Kingdom of God and marked the beginning of the Almighty’s reclaiming His creation!
As the Church grows, even to today, the work of the Holy Spirit as the Mind of God in the Body of Christ continues. Our epistle in 1 Corinthians 12 outlines at least some of the duties of the Trinity’s third person. In the spreading of the gospel by believers, verse 3 shows that it is the Holy Spirit that opens the understanding for a person to claim Jesus as Lord. Some reject Christ. In a sense, sins are forgiven and sins are retained. Verses 4-7 and 12-13 relay the Holy Spirit’s actions in organizing the faithful as one body with many parts working together for the common good. It is the Spirit that gives gifts to each person as He sees fit. It is the Spirit that gives the ability to that person to exercise that gift. All for the glory of God.
The Holy Spirit is intricately active in every aspect of life. He gives physical life. He convicts us of sin. He brings us into a renewed spiritual born again life in Christ. He is God’s mind in us so we can function within Christ’s body. Try to break free from seeing the Holy Spirit as a bird or falling fire. He is a person. He is God. He wants to commune with you. Where are you in relationship with the Holy Spirit? Is He leading you to be a mature God imager? Are you sensitive to His conviction of sin in your life? Have you followed His prompting to believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Do not harden your conscience against Him. He is concerned about your life and wellbeing. Listen! What is the Spirit telling you?