Last Sunday, the church celebrated its birthday with Pentecost. As a pastor, Pentecost is one of my favorite holy days of the church year. It is a day when we celebrate something exciting, out of the ordinary, powerful.
It was on the day of Pentecost long ago when the power of the Holy Spirit poured out upon the disciples and other believers, gathered together as Christ had told them to do. In the power of the Holy Spirit they were made bold to proclaim the gospel so that all people might understand the story of the gospel of Christ. In that power of the Holy Spirit, the church was born.
It was on the day of Pentecost long ago when the power of the Holy Spirit blew among the gathered people like a mighty wind, powerful and unmistakable. The wind of the Holy Spirit was felt as the people were driven to proclaim the gospel, driven to transform the world, driven to be servants in the world.
Natalie Sleeth, a composer/poet with ties to West Virginia Wesleyan College, imagined this wind in her hymn, "God is Like a Rock." In one stanza she describes: "God is like the wind, something no one sees; mighty as the gale, gentle as the breeze with a hidden power no one can deny as the days go by."
On that morning of Pentecost long ago, the power of God, through the Holy Spirit, came upon those gathered like the rush of a mighty wind. It was powerful, strong, vital, energetic and overwhelming.
In the Greek of the New Testament the words used to name the Holy Spirit are hagio, which means holy, and pneuma, which means breath or wind. So the best translation would be Holy Breath or Holy Wind. It sounds odd to us, but Holy Wind might be the best way to describe the third person of the Trinity.
A wind moves things. Think of leaves blowing around on a blustery autumn day or snow blowing in a blizzard. Think of the loud flapping sound on a flagpole on an unrelentingly windy day when there is the expectation of the wind ripping the flag right off the pole.
Think of the wind filling the sails of a sailboat and then moving the boat through the water. Wind is about movement.
Think about standing by the ocean or on top of a mountain when the wind is blowing so hard in your face that it makes you squint. Think about how alive you feel in those moments.
There was a reason that God sent the Holy Spirit to us like the rush of a mighty wind. God wanted that early Christian community and us to feel alive because of Christ, because of the presence of the Holy Spirit. God wants us to move because of the power of the Holy Spirit.
As those gathered that day long ago felt the power of the Holy Spirit, Holy Wind, they were amazed to find themselves moving. The Holy Spirit made them move. Peter moved out from the room to address the crowd, reminding them that the prophet Joel had promised this event.
All of those present that day moved out to proclaim the good news of Christ. They moved to help those who were poor. They moved to comfort those who were in need, who were in despair, who were in mourning. They moved to establish the church and the mission of Christ.
The story and celebration of Pentecost are powerful for us because Pentecost reminds us that we can feel just as alive as that community gathered long ago and that we can move out to proclaim the good news and to establish the church and mission of Christ.
As believers we can gather to pray. As a child I grew up going to Wednesday evening prayer services. The sole purpose was to gather and pray to claim Christ's promises through prayer, to pray for those who were sick and suffering, to pray for those in grief, to pray for wisdom and direction, to pray for the poor, to pray for the Spirit to move in our lives and give us a purpose in meaningful service.
The celebration of Pentecost reminds us to pay attention to our prayer life. Pentecost reminds us to pay attention to the prayer life of the faith community.
It takes courage to be a praying individual. It takes courage to be a praying faith community because if we are serious about our prayer lives then we are serious about inviting the Holy Spirit to be a part of us and we are inviting the Holy Wind to breathe upon us and make us feel alive and move us like the wind moves a kite.
I want to feel this Holy Wind in my face and feel alive. I know that feeling the Holy Wind in my face will cause me to move and serve. I am ready for that again. I hope that you are too. There is much that the Holy Spirit can move us to do and in moving with the Holy Spirit we can make a difference in this world.
To God be the Glory!
-On the parish calendar: Church Picnic/VBS Kick-Off, Sunday, First UMC. Gather for fellowship, 4 p.m.; meal, 5 p.m.
- Pool Party, 6:308:30 p.m., Sunday, Chapel Hill UMC
- Summer Youth Celebration, MondayFriday, WV Wesleyan
- Wilderness Escape, Vacation Bible School, MondayThursday, 6-8 p.m., First UMC. Light supper served at 5:30 p.m. Learn from the Bible hero Moses where God guides and provides.
- Parish Council meeting, 5 p.m. Monday, The Parish House
- Week of Service, July 19 25, Chapel Hill UMC. Coincides with the church's mission to the Dominican Republic for those who cannot make the trip, offering opportunities to give back to the community.
- MissionU, United Methodist Women,July 24-26, West Virginia Wesleyan College.