This weekend in worship, we will celebrate the Day of Pentecost, a major festival Sunday in the church year. Frequently celebrated as the birthday of the church, Pentecost recalls the gift of the Holy Spirit given to the first disciples, who, empowered by tongues of fire and guided by the rush of violent wind, began to speak in foreign tongues allowing the gospel message beyond Judaea.
Often thought of as the beginning of the “long green season” of Ordinary Time, which will take us all the way until the beginning of Advent in December, the Day of Pentecost itself is actually the fiftieth and final day in the Season of Easter. Including Pentecost as a part of the Easter season reminds us that the work of the Holy Spirit is inseparable from the Resurrection and the risen life that we share, through baptism, with Christ.
To be Easter people, to live in the freedom of the resurrection, is to allow ourselves to be sent into God’s world, to serve neighbors in need, and to live for others. Most years, Pentecost serves as a reminder to the people of God that our mission lies beyond the walls of our church and a call to action to serve our neighbors in need. This year, when we have already been sent beyond the walls of our building, perhaps Pentecost is a reminder that even in these difficult days, when it is hard to feel spiritually filled, the Holy Spirit is still at work, breaking into our world and surprising us with glimpses of light and grace.
Like the first disciples, gathered together after Jesus’ Ascension, we are waiting for what will come next and, we too, feel our patience waning and frustration growing. When will things be “normal” again? Where is God in the midst of all that is going on? Pentecost reminds us that, contrary to every expectation we might have, God is always doing something new in the world. God isn’t waiting for the pandemic to end or for “normal” (whatever that means) to return. God is at work, here and now, through the constant presence of the Holy Spirit.
We, who are privileged to share in the risen life of Jesus Christ, are called to do the same. We are called to be a part of the new thing that God is doing in the world right here, right now because our world needs our love, our service, and our concern.
This Pentecost, hear the words of the great hymn God of Tempest, God of Whirlwind (ELW 400) and remember that you are being sent into the world, not alone, but as one guided and loved by the Holy Spirit.
God of earthquake, God of thunder,
Shake us loose from lethargy!
Break the chains of sin asunder,
For earth’s healing set us free!
Crumble walls that still divide us;
Make us one in Christ our Lord,
Make us one in Christ our Lord.
God of passion, God unsleeping,
Stir in us love’s restlessness!
Where the people cry in anguish,
May we share your heart’s distress.
Rouse us from content with evil;
Claim us for your kingdom’s work,
Claim us for your kingdom’s work.
Holy Spirit, come!