If you were a citizen of North Minneapolis or Joplin Missouri and you heard the words, “there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting,” how might you react? Wind is a mysterious and powerful thing. Sometimes it is a violent force that rips through neighborhoods and leaves a pile of sticks in its wake. Sometimes it is a gentle breeze that brings cool air and sweet fragrance on a hot day. It is the air around us. We can’t see it, but we depend upon it for everything. It surrounds us and engulfs us, filling every gap of our lives.
A strange thing about wind is that, in the Bible, the word for wind is the same word for breath and spirit. “there came a sound like the rush of a violent breath/spirit and it filled the entire house.”
On the day of Pentecost thousands of Jewish people gathered from all corners of the Roman Empire to celebrate God’s faithfulness in giving them a harvest and giving them the Torah – the Scripture. For centuries they had waited nervously for God to fulfill the prophecies and deliver them from the hands of their oppressors. Year after year they celebrated the feast of Weeks (Pentecost) and went through the motions and God did nothing. God held his breath, did not speak, and they waited.
And then it happened. God breathed, and all Heaven broke loose. The spirit of God ripped through Jerusalem and transformed common Gallilean fishermen into bold, bilingual evangelists. God set them on fire and unleashed them onto the world. The breath of God filled those people and that year they went home knowing that the prophecies had been fulfilled. There was a new Lord in the land, and his name was Jesus. He was not the Lord of war and terror like the Lord Caesar of Rome, he was the Lord of life and love, forgiveness and grace, peace and reconciliation.
Today we come together each Sunday as God’s people. The question is, do we breathe? Do we come into God’s presence expecting to encounter the mighty wind where we can breathe deeply the presence of God and be transformed? Or, do we hyperventalate in the rapid, shallow breaths, surrounded by our own fear, anxiety, sin, and defeat.
This Pentecost may we come into the reality that the Spirit of God is like the wind. The Spirit surrounds us and engulfs us. It is the air we breathe. It is the air God breathes that, if we inhale and take a deep breath, will ingnite us into the power and fruitfullness of God’s kingdom each day of our lives.