News, Connections and Photos from the life of the faith community at CAPC Oakland
Is God in the world? How does she moves about in the world? How do we see or hear him?
Pentecost was both nothing new at the time, and also changed the world. It was an old and established Jewish holiday, a celebration occuring 50 days after the Passover. A celebration of the wheat harvest, it was like a sort of “Thanksgiving” (to put in our cultural terms). Later it morphed and took the shape of more than just thanksgivig for the agirculture harvest, or the gift of God. It was lived as a celebration of the giving of the Torah – or Law – to Moses: the gift of God’s word in the world.
In the story related to us in the second chapter of Acts, Jeruslam is flooded with foreigns from all over the known world – or the Roman Empire. They’ve come to the city of faith to celebrate the giving of God’s word. 50 days after Passover, and the resurrection of Jesus, the disciples are gathered to await God’s gift in the world, not just celebrating the past gift of the Torah, but actively anticipating God’s new gift for the world: the Spirit promised by Jesus.
The coming of the Holy Spirit is described as a noise from heaven, like a wind, as if it were fire, and slivers or tongues of fire that descended upon the disciples – men and women. The descriptions aren’t exact, neither are they vague, they point toward the wild suddenness of this uncontrollable divine presence in the world, with and through the disciples. This presence in the world moves (literally) the disciples. They go from waiting in anticipation, to proclaiming in hope. They are pushed from the last vestiges of uncertainty following the absence of Jesus, to a radical confidence that turns them outwards towards all the world: those with little life experience have great wisdom and vision of the future. Those at the end of their lifespan have wildly hopeful dreams of the days to come. The crowds are perplexed. They must be drunk. It’s the only logical explanation.
We often look for logical explanations, for how we think God will act, should act. We see her according to the vision we expect and dictate. And yet the stories of the Bible, and those of our life journeys, affirm that he is not controllable, always doing more than we could ever ask or imagine.
Questions for Going Deeper: