Today is Pentecost. It has been 50 days since Easter. (time sure does fly, as they say) Pentecost originally was a feast outlined in Leviticus as the offering of new grain (Leviticus 23:15-21). That is why the Book of Acts notes that there were so many in Jerusalem, “Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians…” (Acts 2:9-11) Everyone was present for the festival.
For Christians, Pentecost is when we remember the giving of the Holy Spirit on the faithful followers of Jesus. They were in the upper room hiding out, fear-filled and unsure of themselves. In the course of 50 days, not even 2 months, they had seen Jesus die, Jesus resurrected, and Jesus ascend to heaven. They probably didn’t know what to expect next.
What came next was flame and wind. The Holy Spirit emboldened them to go out and tell everyone what had happened. They had to proclaim what Jesus had done. We may never have had tongues of fire descend on us, or a loud rushing wind impel us to preach. However, we are descendants of those men and women. We are called to proclaim the Good News of Christ to a world desperate for some good news.
Over the past 5 weeks, readers here have had the chance to look at ways to be refreshed in soul for the work of God. The season of Pentecost, which lasts from now until Advent, is when we live and do the work of God in the world. This season is sometimes called “ordinary time”. In one sense it is ordinary because we are going about our regular routines without the benefit of big feast days to inspire us. On the other hand, the season of Pentecost is anything but ordinary because we are doing God’s work. When we become aware that our day-to-day living is part of the work of God, we become extra-ordinary women and men.
Peter, and those in the upper room, were transformed by the experience of the Holy Spirit. They boldly spoke out about Jesus while living their daily lives. In Acts we are told, “Day by day, attending the temple together and breaking break in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people.” (Acts 2:46-47) Yes, they did signs and wonders, but more importantly, they lived among their neighbors just like they had always done. It was the witness of their changed lives and their pointing to Christ that impressed and converted people. When Peter and John were confronted by the lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, they told him, “I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”
(I offer you this coloring page as an aid to meditating on the ordinary, yet extra-ordinary response of Peter and John. Print it out and sit with the picture and some pencils, markers, crayons. As you color, think about the lives of the first century men and women. How can you be like them in telling about Jesus in your life?)
The men and women of first century Jerusalem were not really that different from you and me. They were living their lives, conscious of the action of God in Christ and through the Holy Spirit. They could do nothing except share the Good News.
Over the next few weeks, the meditations here will look at ways we are Blessed to do that work as well. Come along and live the (extra)ordinary time of sharing in the witness of God.