When the day of Pentecost had come, they 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… So those who welcomed Peter’s message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. Acts 2:1-3, 41
OUTSIDE THE BOX
At the beginning of the Pentecost story the disciples are gathered in the upper room. At the end of the Pentecost story they have moved out of the box of the upper room and into the streets of Jerusalem.
It is tempting to romanticize the Pentecost story. We may romanticize the first disciples as super Christians with super powers who never struggled, doubted, or wavered. We may say wistfully, “Weren’t those the good old days?–with a single sermon Peter could convert 3000 people!”
Truthfully, the arrival of Holy Spirit didn’t make life easier for the disciples–it created new challenges. If the Holy Spirit had left them alone, they could have gone back to Galilee, gone back to their lives, their jobs, their families. Instead Holy Spirit’s arrival pushed them outside the box of a conventional life.
The disciples had to manage the growing pains of the young church. They had to deal with money, conflict, and the burdens of managing life in community. The Holy Spirit’s coming didn’t eliminate these challenges but it did give the disciples an outside the box purpose that enriched their lives and powered their sense of mission.
The Pentecost story is ours as well. Like the disciples, we struggle with money issues, conflict and the challenges of managing our common life together. And, like the disciples we have an outside the box purpose, bringing the life-giving love of Jesus Christ, to the community around us.
Can we think outside the box? Can we move outside the box and into the streets? The Holy Spirit says yes. After all, it is the Spirit who brings us to faith in Jesus Christ, the Holy One who proclaims God’s outside the box love for the world. And it is the Spirit who gives us knowledge of the God who thinks outside the box, who raised Jesus from the dead after the world crucified him.
Pentecost is coming and the Spirit says yes! Let’s get out there.