Acting Up and Out ~ The Church Today
Pentecost was a Jewish festival, 50 days after Passover. 50 days after talking about God's liberating love; 50 days after asking where do I/we need liberation still this day and where do I/we need God to enter in to break down the chains that still keep us confined? Passover is a major celebration that is supposed to make a difference. You don't just theoretically and theologically wax poetic about how we are chained to consumerism and cynicism and that our treatment of God's creation falls woefully short of God's call to be good stewards on the night of Passover to wake up the next day to go shopping in your Hummer! You name the need for Passover in your life so that God might lead you somewhere, even if it is a wilderness, once you name your stuff.
Same goes for us in the Christian Church. 50 days after proclaiming that, "Christ is risen," it isn't just that we set that truth aside or tuck it away for another year. That truth needs to work on us. 50 days after Easter, we have borrowed/taken the idea of Pentecost...the giving of the Spirit.
In the time of Acts, people from all different directions would have come back to Jerusalem (just as they did for Passover) to celebrate Pentecost. They would read the 10 Commandments. These are often seen in our world today as rules. But the 10 Commandments are really about relationship. How can we relate to God? We can put God in the center and be careful, cautious about other things that want our allegiance. We can rest. We can make sure we treat others with grace and love (numbers 5 through 10). After naming and claiming where liberation was needed, it was time to name and claim how we can live a life where relationships are tended. Yes, I know they still sound like rules, but they can also help show us ways to life with God, others, and ourselves.
So, waiting around for the promised Spirit to infuse and immerse them so they can go preach. Pentecost...remember the 10 Commandments...arrives. But that isn't all. A Spirit swirls and sloshes in chaotic ways. Now this isn't some spirit of gentleness or restlessness like a breeze...this is a hurricane force wind that whips around them. A flame (remember God led the people with a pillar of fire in the wilderness wandering after escaping Egypt) starts to warm their skin. But they don't pull out s'mores for a campfire, they start to witness in a cacophony of languages. This isn't some ho-hum day...this is holy chaos. And the church says..."Yup, we resemble that still today"!
We need to reclaim that as an image for God's work in our world. Holy chaos that doesn't conform to Roberts Rules of Order. Holy chaos that enters into our messy, mundane lives. Holy chaos that interrupts and disrupts our lives.
What would being part of God's holy chaos look like for you?
For me, it means that all my neat, tidy to-do lists need to be open to God's still swirling presence. For me, it means that I have to let God speak through me... sometimes that means letting go of my tightly held ideas for what God needs to say in such a time as this. For me, it means that I don't get to define and determine the time.
Wait patiently and persistently.
Being sent out to places where I am on the edge of my comfort and competence.
Holy Chaos...not some step-by-step GPS...but a movement that embraces me to do things that people might say, "He is full of new wine".
That kind of invitation might open us to something more than just a trace of God's grace.