When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like a rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the houses where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues of fire as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
The Day of Pentecost was a Jewish tradition and celebrated seven weeks after Passover. People gathered to mark the anniversary of the Law given by God to Moses. We know from Acts 1 that the risen Christ told his disciples and close followers not to leave Jerusalem but to wait to receive the Holy Spirit, “the promise of the Father.”
I often ask myself, what must it have been like to be in that room? Terrifying? Exhilarating? Confusing?
When we read scripture, we are often challenged to put ourselves in the picture and circumstances to try to derive personal meaning and growth. For me, this passage leads me to recall a moment of Grace when the Holy Spirit felt especially close.
One vivid experience was a time when I was in an intense business conflict. The opposing person was falsifying documents and lying about some issues that attacked me and my entire department. With the help of my rector, I prayed for guidance. On the day of a show-down meeting, I faced her and silently prayed. In a moment my neck felt like it was fever-hot and the heat, like a wave,rolled up my neck to my ears and to the top of my head.The hate I felt towards her lifted and dissipated; I was left feeling a great gift of peace. My feeling of hate transformed into one of sympathy for her.
In his book, The Universal Christ, Father Richard Rohrer writes about the pattern of spiritual transformation. He describes the spiritual learning patterns we go through from “order to disorder to reorder.” He writes, “Order is the first stage where everything is basically good, ….we feel a part of what looks normal and deserved.” The disorder stage is when something challenging happens(i.e., a family death, rejection, divorce,life-change).He says, “this stage or what we call from the Adam and Eve story—the fall. It is necessary in some form if any real growth is to occur.” He goes on to tell us that the reorder stage is “enlightenment and the life on the other side of death, the victory on the other side of failure, the joy on the other side of the pains of childbirth. It is an insistence on going through—not under, over, or around. There is no nonstop flight to reorder.”
When the disciples experienced the resurrection and the mighty winds and tongues of fire of the Holy Spirit, they were transformed. There was no stopping them from spreading the Good News (even in different languages). As Rohrer said, they were insistent on going through it—not under, or around their experience: There was no nonstop flight to reorder. They experienced Jesus’ promise that “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17) and how Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:51, “we shall be changed.”
Connie Clark, EfM year 4