The Summer months are months of movement. It’s the time of year when most of us take vacations, traveling to other parts of the country (or the world) to get away from our routines. We’re on the move. It may be a week at the beach or a trip to the mountains, but in summertime, for the most part, we don’t sit still.
God is also on the move. This month we observe the holy day of Pentecost. Known to Jews as Shavout, or “weeks” in English, this festival celebrates the anniversary of the day when God gave the Torah (the Law) to the nation of Israel at Mt. Sinai. It was also a harvest festival, the time when first fruits were brought to the Temple in Jerusalem. Pentecost comes 50 days after Passover.
For Christians, Pentecost (50 days after Easter) is the day we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit into the lives of Christ followers. “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place…” (Acts 2:1). And the Spirit of God filled the room where the disciples were meeting with a sound like the wind. And it filled the disciples and allowed them to speak in different tongues to the Jewish pilgrims from different lands who had come to Jerusalem for the feast.
We also think of Pentecost as the birthday of the church. But what do we mean by church? A thoughtful article on the Acts account of Pentecost suggests this birthday does not mark the founding of an institution, although the church bears many marks of being one. Rather, “it’s the inauguration of a movement of people, marked with the cross of Christ, who speak blessing and take back curses.”
I think this is what makes Pentecost my favorite celebration of the year, right behind Easter. It reminds us that we were not called into relationship with God to be a staid institution of our time and place. No, the church is a people—God’s people—and God’s people are to be on the move. We are the people who share God’s blessings with others through God’s love and God’s grace. We are marked with the Cross of Christ, who died for us so we can bless others with the love of Christ.
As you travel this summer, remember that God’s Spirit is on the move. Look for it wherever you go, at home or far away. Expect it to move us—as individuals and as a community of faith—into our next mission field, with work that God has already prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2;10).
At this point I’m tempted to say “catch the Spirit,” but that’s such a well-worn phrase and it doesn’t really say what I think God is calling us to be about. (If we catch it, does it cease moving? Will it stop with us)? How about “Go with the Spirit!”
That’s more like it.