Pentecost: Connected and Empowered
Pentecost is a holiday that gets no love. Christmas, there is a season of preparation, parties, and gifts. Easter, family get together, chocolate, and candy. Pentecost, we go to church and then go about our day. I feel like Pentecost is walking around quoting Rodney Dangerfield, you know because he doesn't get any respect.
I think Pentecost is a super important holiday and may even be my favorite. The weather is usually beautiful, it reminds us summer is near, and it is about the Holy Spirit. The story of Pentecost is fantastic in every conceivable way.
This year I was reflecting on the idea of Pentecost during the pandemic. What does it look like to celebrate Pentecost on lockdown? Then I asked a deeper question, "What does Pentecost communicate today?" In a moment where the world is going stir crazy and feeling isolated. In a moment when we feel powerless because the normal everyday things we took for granted are either harder or we are not able to do them, Pentecost speaks volumes.
Pentecost reminds us that we are connected and empowered. In Acts 2, we see the women and men who followed Jesus experience the personal presence of God. The language used of wind and fire filling the room is the language of the temple. Specifically, the author is communicating that the very presence that filled the temple in Jerusalem is now filling the disciples. The disciples are experiencing the presence of God, aka the Holy Spirit, in a very personal way. They are connected to God in a big way. Just as Moses and the prophets were filled with the Holy Spirit, now so are they.
Not only are the disciples connected to God, but they are now connected to each other. This experience of over 100 people now binds these followers together. When you go through an event with people, you tend to have a connection with them. These people were Jesus' followers and lived life together for a while. They had shared life experiences. However, they were now connected in a new and exciting way because of Pentecost.
The connection doesn't stop there. The people were connected to the world as well. The first thing the disciples do after receiving the Holy Spirit is to go out and tell the good news of God in Jesus. The twist in the story is they begin speaking in different languages. The pilgrims from all different regions of the Roman Empire are coming to celebrate the festival of Pentecost. These pilgrims begin to hear the disciples speak to them in their own language. It is a bold declaration of God that humans are connected again. Most often, this Pentecost wonder is referred to as an undoing of the tower of Babel. Humanity is unified. During the pandemic, we have seen that we have shared experiences. All over the world, we have experienced lockdowns, pain, suffering, and job loss. In a strange way, COVID has reminded us humans that we are more connected then we thought. What impacts one nation can impact us all. Also, I have been in contact with more people digitally, and on the phone, then I was before the pandemic. Despite being stuck at home, I am interacting and connecting more than ever.
The other powerful message of Pentecost during COVID is we are empowered. That seems strange, I know. We have been stuck at home, and that may feel limiting and oppressive. Yet, I see it as powerful. In this moment, we, as a country, have decided to fight. We have refused to let this virus spread like wildfire and destroy hundreds of thousands of lives. We, like King Jesus, have laid down our power and freedom for our neighbor's life and love. When we go out, we take all the right precautions making sure to do our part to protect people. I have also seen people and communities step up in big ways. People have made masks, shopped for elderly neighbors, encouraged healthcare workers, and so much more. I do not see a nation or a world that is powerless, but empowered. Pentecost was the day when the disciples found themselves seeing the world in a new way. They were empowered by God's personal presence to change their communities and the world. We see them go against the culture and help the homeless by selling possessions. We see them organize a food ministry to help the hungry widows and orphans. We hear stories of women making clothes for people in need from their homes.
Pentecost is a day we are reminded that we are connected and empowered. We are connected to God and our fellow humans, locally and globally. We are empowered with the Holy Spirit to see the world in a new way and positively impact our communities. I know I need to be reminded right now that I am connected and empowered. I hope this weekend as you celebrate Pentecost, you, too, are reminded you are connected and empowered.