Whoosh! Reflections - 5-12-16

 Texts for Sunday May 15, 2016
 Pentecost

 Acts 2:1-21
 Psalm 104:24-34
 Romans 8:14-17
 John 14:8-17

I love to tell the story! I’ve told it using flannel-graphs and film strips (yes, I’m that old), and puppets, story books, videos (Veggie Tales!) and the audience themselves. About 40 years ago, I learned to mime. On and off over the years, I would join a little troupe of silent ones to lead worship, making “the Word visible”.  Even with words, I still tend to flail my arms and use my face when I tell a Bible story.

The ELCA's Southeastern Iowa Synod assembly last weekend had a guest, Baltimore pastor Jason Chesnut, who made stories from the book of John come alive through his telling by voice and movement. I wanted to jump on stage and join him. 

Picture all that kinetic energy rolling around inside me as I read next Sunday’s text where the Spirit of God swoops in on the disciples in Acts 2. I want to jump on stage and join them in their amazement! 

Luke knows how to put together a story. Just shut your eyes and imagine the scene! Like the Christmas story and the Easter story, I think the story can stand alone without a lot of comment. But, of course, I’ve a couple of thoughts. 


Did the Spirit swoop like a mighty rush of wind?  Did it appear like flames over the disciples? I don’t know. But I do know that another important story from Israel’s history includes a mighty rush of wind – this one parts a sea and brings God’s people to freedom. And in an earlier story, God speaks to Moses out of a burning bush that “was not consumed” by the fire and calls him to lead those people to freedom. Later, in Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones (again, the people of Israel), God calls breath from the four winds to breathe upon the dead that they may live.  Wind and fire, freedom and new life: God is very present.

To all this whooshing and crackling of God’s presence, the Acts story adds one more thing: everyone in the crowd (made of people from many languages) could understand what the disciples were saying. The Word came to each person. In good catechetical manner, the crowd asks “what does this mean?” 

At the very start of creation, God’s breath/wind/spirit moved and stirred across chaos. With a word from God, all creation came alive. Later that creating Word became flesh and that fleshly Word lived and taught and died in a particular time within a particular people. And THEN, in this story, that same Word (after the flesh had ascended) poured, gushed, surged out on all people and they understood, each in their own language. Wind, flame, and Word: God is very present to all.

One other thought. Gloria Dei’s tag line, gathered by grace, scattered for service, could also be the tag line for Pentecost. This is the start of a new community, one that has been gathered by grace/Spirit. After Peter gives his speech, then the assembled crowd of new disciples scatter out to bring Spirit, freedom, and new life to “all the world”. 


Please add your thoughts to the comment section below (all the way down).

Check for more ways to reflect on these texts with Sunday's G.I.F.T. post.

Again, fine photos from the folks at Pixabay.com!

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Written by Pam Larabee-Zierath


Gathered by Grace, Scattered for Service
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