It was a cold February in 1999, and there was a small youth meeting happening at a local Anglican church. The people had been in the midst of crippling moral decay. Teen suicide, and drunkenness were commonplace in the predominantly inuit community of Nunavut, Canada. The leaders were ordinary people, with ordinary jobs who simply wanted to see God do something for their community. What happened was what sounded like a jet plane taking off right next to door. And even though they had turned off everything electronic, the sound kept getting louder and louder, to the point where they were able to get a recording, even though the recorder had been unplugged.
Fact or fiction? Well, you tell me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXJ7SNZF2cs
The truth is simple.
Without the presence of God, we are still dust.
But we are not still dust.
We are sons and daughters.
And as a son or daughter there is no begging or pleading – for the dead, the sick, the lame, or the hopeless. No, God wants so much more for them than begging or pleading.
Begging and pleading presuppose that we want something more than the person we are begging from. But isn’t prayer nothing more than exactly this for most of us – a series of ‘asks’ and ‘pleadings’?
We are dust. It is true. Made of the same stuff of stars. Just matter colliding with, what Carl Sagan coined, ‘star stuff’. Yet we are somehow more than that, and even given Sagan’s brave attempts to romanticize scientific inquiry, it is still not enough for us.
‘We’ are not enough for us.
If it isn’t obvious already, God seems sorely absent from ‘His’ world. Bombings, hunger, trafficking, disease, and the radicalization of youth, the world seems to be spinning (pun intended) out of control. But it could be that God prefers to seem absent, when in fact His presence is so overwhelming it seems like it would be obvious unless He preferred willing participants. In order to find a people who are willing, this people has to tap into faith beyond the grave, the nations obsession with death, and the idea that all things important, all the time. This people has to be led onto resurrection ground.
If we do what is simply obvious, that makes us nothing more than followers. God wants more than ‘followers.’ He wants willing followers, and that requires a level of removed clarity.
He has to be missable.
Not unlike the burning book with Moses, God prefers that people stop long enough to see, or hear, or even believe. Yet we are too busy it seems, absorbed in our rolodex of distractions intended on ‘connecting’ us when in fact they only seem to ‘distract’ us for the thing we actuality need to be fully human: Spirit.
I have seen the sick healed, and the blind receive their sight with my own eyes. What I still long to see are a people committed to the trusting in the fire in the wind. A steady and consistent attempt to not ‘manage’ the Spirit, but a continual trust in the Lion doing whatever He wants, and us being willing bodies.
Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit. With ministry on the horizon, and a failed Messiah who had just demonstrated a major comeback (a.k.a. resurrection), it would seem it were time to spread the word as quickly as possible. Hadn’t they already done the things He did, preach the word He preached, and learned the truths He taught?
The wind had picked up since the death of this so-called failed Messiah. An insurrectionists movement was suppressed, and a blasphemer put to death. But this Messiah would raise back to life and release a people who would go on to begin something that would strike fear in the hearts of Tyrants, and rejoicing in the hearts of children: the Kingdom of God. Whirlwinds may abound, but grace goes further.
Pentecost Sunday is a day where we remember what it takes to receive the life of God, enough to show the world we are more than dust, and show Tyrants that without Him they are nothing more than such dust. And as we worshipped in our local church today, I witness the power of trusting in the midst of the whirlwind, watching as the power of God was faithful to appear, only to find that He had never left. Emmanuel may mean ‘God with us,’ but even that wasn’t enough. God wanted to be ‘in’ us.
It is enough.
The rest will follow naturally, but surely unexpectedly. Pentecost was unexpected but very welcome. And that is exactly what we experienced today, amongst the gathering of the Saints, the very thing that God always does: the unexpected and the welcome, forever longing to rest burning in our hearts. We can not keep calm, nor silent! He is with us.