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Pentecost: The Breath of God

The problem as God gave Habakkuk to see it: God, how long do I have to cry out for help before you listen? How many times do I have to yell, “Help! Murder! Police!” before you come to the rescue? Why do you force me to look at evil, stare trouble in the face day after day? Anarchy and violence break out, quarrels and fights all over the place. Law and order fall to pieces. Justice seems a joke. The wicked have the righteous hamstrung and the stand equity on its head.

-       Habakkuk 1:2 MSG

Pentecost is the Greek word for Shavuot, a Jewish harvest festival. The apostles were celebrating this festival together in Jerusalem after Jesus’ Resurrection and return to heaven when the Holy Spirit descended on them.

19 On that same evening (Resurrection Sunday), the followers gathered together behind locked doors in fear that some of the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem were still searching for them. Out of nowhere, Jesus appeared in the center of the room.

Jesus: May each one of you be at peace.

20 As He was speaking, He revealed the wounds in His hands and side. The disciples began to celebrate as it sank in that they were really seeing the Lord.

Jesus: 21 I give you the gift of peace. In the same way the Father sent Me, I am now sending you.

22 Now He drew close enough to each of them that they could feel His breath. He breathed on them: Jesus: Welcome the Holy Spirit of the living God.

23 You now have the mantle of God’s forgiveness. As you go, you are able to share the life-giving power to forgive sins, or to withhold forgiveness.

-       John 20:19-23 The Voice (VOICE)

Bystanders at first thought the apostles must be drunk and therefore unsound. Later, Peter powerfully communicated to the gathering that they were clothed in the Holy Spirit: “there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” The apostles were edified, able to speak of the wonderful works of God in the many languages of the crowds in Jerusalem visiting for the harvest festival.

During a recent online event “Racism and The Racial Lines of Covid-19” presented by the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, Eddie S. Glaude Jr. said “the true expression of God in the world will come from the most vulnerable.” The anti-racism advocates of today are as enlightened as the prophets and apostles of two centuries ago, crossing continental and cultural borders, speaking in tongues about prejudice and inequality. Skeptics may think modern day activists for racial justice are unstable and unsound, but we can see from the events of this past week, justice warriors are speaking a truth that communicates we all deserve dignity.

Racism is an Imago Deo issue. The Holy Spirit helps us see the breath of God in every lung, the God in every face and the humanity of one another.  If there is anything we can learn from Eastertide, it is that God is steadfast and sure, always with us and will intercede on behalf of his people. In the 49 days since Easter, Ascension taught us to leave things better than we found them. Shavuot showed us how God’s word makes us wise. Pentecost illustrates to us the power of breath and the Holy Spirit.

“We have to begin to imagine ourselves in a different way. We’re at this incredible crossroad and the crossroad is marked by something dying and something destined to be born.”

- Eddie S. Glaude Jr.


Prayer for Pentecost:

May the world never go back to normal because we are forever changed.