Based on Acts 2:1-21
A number of years ago, when I was ministering in Merritt, we gathered every Thursday morning for Bible Study, reading the passages for the coming Sunday. We read again the familiar yet mysterious story, `When the day of Pentecost has come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.
we discussed it a bit, and then a dear lady named Gwen turned to me and said, “What do you think happened there, Juanita.”
And I answered very cleverly…`Well, if you read the Acts account (which was written by Luke) you get one kind of language for experiencing the Holy Spirit, but if you read John’s account it’s much less flamboyant, and it happens during the resurrection appearance where Jesus breaths the Holy Spirit onto the disciples and it’s all tied in with forgiveness, and… I found myself sounding somewhat like Rex Murphy, from CBC, only not as eloquent.
So I said something even cleverer like, `I don’t know.’ But I believe they experienced the Holy Spirit and it’s hard to say what that experience is like – you just gotta say what it’s like for you.
So I shared a variety of experiences: From some Pentecostal friends I relearned that truth found in Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say Rejoice. With thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.” To put aside worry, discontentment, and fear for a while and just say `Thank you, thank you’ can open you up to the Spirit in a way that nothing else can.
From my Catholic friends I experienced the Holy Spirit through the rich repetition of the liturgy – letting the familiar music and words carry me to a higher plane.
But the Holy Spirit isn’t just about feeling of euphoria, it’s about the power of community discernment. It’s about making brave choices and enacting justice.
Last week I told you the story that hereditary Gitxsan chief Jim Angus shared with us at Conference two weeks ago. He remained ever grateful for the B.C. Conference meeting in Terrace in 1989 when the church committed to raising a million dollars to help First Nations with land claims in B.C. I wasn’t at that meeting in Terrace, but I remember vividly what happened several years later when Conference met in Richmond.
It was the end of the campaign. We were only $20,000.00 short of our goal. Wow. That’s awesome, I thought – almost a million dollars! Good enough. But then one of the elders spoke. “We know you are honourable people and you want to keep your word”, he told us. And he started drumming. People started passing around buckets and hats, and people started digging out their loose changes, throwing in 5 or 10 or 20 dollars, some signed over their travel cheques, and we raised that last $20,000.00 in ten minutes.
Where did that money come from? It wasn’t there 10 minutes before? The Holy Spirit is not about scarcity, but abundance.
At this point I invited the congregation to think about a time when they felt they had experienced the Holy Spirit, or a `holy moment’ and invited them to talk to one or two other people about it. What happened was truly beautiful, as people all over the congregation gathered in twos and threes and listened respectfully, and spoke from the heart of their sacred experiences. In the mix and murmur of voices, it really was the sound of `the Holy spirit poured out on all people.’ Several people shared their `spirit stories’ with the rest of the congregation – this is something I hope we will do more of!
By God’s grace, we all have gifts of the Spirit. …. to some is given the gift of discernment, hospitality, organization, generosity, wisdom, a passion for justice, the ability to listen well, and to speak honestly and compassionately, to play music, to have a financial plan, to dream dreams, …
Thanks be for the Holy Spirit, stirring up our lives in so many ways. Amen.