The fifty day long season of Easter ends this month on Sunday the 19th. That is the day of Pentecost, which is sometimes called the birthday of the church. The word “Pentecost” means “fiftieth.” It’s the Greek name for the Hebrew Festival of Weeks. As Christians, what really gets our attention is Acts 2:1-4, which reads:
“When the day of Pentecost had come, [the disciples] were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.”
Speaking in tongues! That gets the attention of plenty of people! These followers of Jesus have been through a lot recently. Their Lord and friend has been crucified, put in a tomb, and raised from the dead. As the Christ, he has ascended. Now, as promised, the Spirit has visited them and filled them with power.
Still, aside from the drama and spectacle, the real power of the Spirit is seen in the halting, stumbling efforts that this community of people from different backgrounds demonstrates in their life together. “With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need” (Acts 4:33-35).
In The Power of the Powerless, here’s what Jürgen Moltmann says about it: “Why does the Pentecost community always have ‘more than enough’? Because the power of the resurrection and the Spirit of fellowship have liberated them from the fear of death and from anxiety about life. If God is for us, if God is in our midst, between each and all of us, then there is no longer any want, in any sector of life. People share everything and share in everything, divide and confide all that they have. That is the message of the Pentecost community in Jerusalem, which made so many rich. And that is their message to us as well.” (131)
There isn’t any one single right way to “do” church. Still, what can we learn from their example? One of the amazing things about the Spirit is that there is always more than enough. Can we trust that? Can we trust the call and receive the courage it takes to be Pentecost people?
May we seek the power of the Spirit.