Here on the edge of the prairie we are no strangers to wind. Calm days are a rarity, and thankfully, even though we don’t often have the dangerous tornadic winds, we do have our share of windstorms. They seem to be more noticeable at night. Lying in bed at night, listening to the howling of the northwest wind, I feel very thankful for a safe, secure home. When those howling, fierce winds often continue through the night, I wonder what things will look like in the morning. We have cleared many snowdrifts due to strong winds. We have lost many trees and have picked up many broken branches due to the strong winds. And on the larger lakes the wind can do quite a bit of damage to docks, lifts, boats, and the shoreline.
The Pentecost story is a story about a strong wind blowing through the people of God, stirring us up to carry on the ministry Christ has intended for us. The Day of Pentecost marks the coming of the Holy Spirit following the Ascension of Jesus. Luke tells us the Holy Spirit came on the scene in a fierce and mighty way: “Suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they [the disciples] were sitting.” There was nothing gentle or calming about the way the Holy Spirit showed up that day. I liken it to those times when I’m lying in bed listening to the howling of a fierce Northwest wind. When it’s finally done blowing, we don’t know what to expect. We don’t know if we’ve lost trees, branches, shingles, or if there is a snow drift in front of the garage door so deep we will have to shovel our way out of the house.
The Holy Spirit made its entrance ‘like the howling of a fierce wind’ that changed the whole landscape of the life for the followers of Jesus Christ. Once it quit blowing nothing was the same. There were tongues of fire resting on them and they suddenly had the ability to speak in different languages—languages they knew nothing about! There were signs and wonders—miracles happening like never before!
The apostles were huddled in a locked room out of fear of reprisals from the Jews. Suddenly they were boldly proclaiming to the crowds from all over the known world, the Good News of Jesus Christ! How’s that for an exciting church meeting!? It set the stage for all the ones that have followed!
Harsh winds have blown across our region and our country—winds that have blown in the darkness—and have brought a darkness to our lives. We have been dealing with the Coronavirus that has kept us inside for quite some time. Now we are dealing with the dark winds of death, murder, and the awful ramifications of those winds of darkness and evil. We mourn the cruel, vicious death of George Floyd at the hands of those we’re called to trust. Then, in Grand Forks, we mourn the death of policeman Cody Holte, shot to death while serving an eviction notice. In the wake of the murder of George Floyd we are seeing the evil and darkness take a destructive turn of events in Minneapolis. Things seem to be unravelling before our eyes. We pray for the strong, fresh, life-giving wind of the Holy Spirit to blow through our darkened world. We pray that hearts would be changed, lives would be renewed, and the love of Jesus Christ would fill us all as we do His work in a world that needs the renewal of Pentecost.
The Pentecost event is about the gathering of a large multitude of people, from all over the known world, who were in Jerusalem celebrating a harvest festival. The wind of the Holy Spirit brought the power and love of God to bear on the crowd as they all heard the disciples speaking in their own native languages. People were converted to faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior; the people who lived in fear and darkness following the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus were boldly speaking out about Jesus. The Holy Spirit brought a renewal and a transformation we can only hope and pray will take place. This transformation must begin with each one of us in our own hearts and minds. We have to learn to respect one another not because of what we look like or how we dress, or the job we hold, but we need to look upon each person as a child of God, holy and precious in God’s eyes.
Someone shared a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that really sums up the challenge we are facing: “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” We desperately need leadership and a voice such as Dr. King’s for this time and place. We need to love and respect one another as we want to be loved and respected. Jesus is the answer to these problems—if we would only listen and follow. If we would let the Holy Spirit blow through our lives and pass that on to just one person at a time, we would bring in the Reign of Christ upon this darkness. It truly begins with each one of us and spreads exponentially as did the Christian faith in the days following Pentecost.
We’re all tired and stressed out from this pandemic we have been dealing with for so long. We need to rely on the power and love of the Holy Spirit to push us through this difficult time and help us come out of this all with a brighter, lighter, more loving spirit. We need to follow the words of Dr. King and let Christ’s light shine in and through us.
Then the peace of Jesus Christ will indeed shine through us all and we will bring Christ’s light to our world. May the power of Pentecost reign in our hearts and minds and truly bring the love to others.