The Spirit, The Church And Pentecost

The Spirit, The Church And Pentecost June 5, 2022

Thank You (22.5 Millions+) : The Holy Spirit Sent On Pentecost / flickr

Jesus promised that he would send into the world another Comforter, another Counselor, one who would abide with it forever. He also said that the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, would be inside us, making sure we never be abandoned and left to go astray without any help or  guidance. And this is because the Comforter, Spirit of Truth, would help us realize how we have become united with Christ, and once we discern we are united with Christ, we will also understand how we can be and are united with the Father because Christ is one with the Father:

And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you (Jn. 14:16-20 RSV).

On Pentecost we find the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise. On that day, the Holy Spirit was sent into the world. Christ’s believers came together and then, when the Holy Spirit came upon them, they found themselves to one. They were comforted by the presence of the Spirit, but they were also challenged by it, for they were brought together to be the church, the continuing presence of Christ in the world. They came to know how, despite Christ’s ascension, Christ did not abandon the world. His presence remained, as it remained in and through them. This is why some say Pentecost is the birthday of the church, not because there cannot be and are not ways in which the church could be said to have existed before Pentecost, but because it was on this day that the church truly came to subsist in and with the Christian community as a whole, allowing it to become what it was meant to be, the anointed community sent into the world so as to continue Christ’s work in it. Thus, when the apostles and many of the disciples came together in one place, ready to receive the promise of the Spirit, they received far more than they expected, and those around them saw some of the ways the Spirit was at work in them:

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:1-4 RSV).

The Spirit had come upon the disciples as they formed the church;  they were given what they need in order to spread the presence of the Word around the world. Their speech became elevated, permeated by the Spirit, demonstrated by the tongues of fire. Why fire? Because God is a consuming fire, and with the Holy Spirit coming upon them, they became, as it were, like the burning bush, that is, they became a vessel of the glory of God. They were engulfed by the flame of God, by the Spirit, but instead of being consumed and annihilated by the fire, they were raised up and made one with it, so that then, they could present  the glory which they received to the world. They spoke in diverse tongues, indeed, in all the tongues of the people around them, for the Word of God is inclusive, embracing everyone. The Spirit, likewise, and the gifts of the Spirit, the gifts of the kingdom, are for everyone; the Spirit can and will give comfort to everyone. Indeed, as they acquire the Spirit, they will find their lives changed for the better, and everything will change for them. Their view of the world and their experience of it will change, and so they will have the joy associated with intoxication without any of the problems associated with alcohol (thus, while those engulfed by the presence of the Spirit might seem drunk, it will not be because they have lost their rationality or their senses, but because they engage them in a new, transcendent manner, allowing them to see and perceive the world as it is in God). The joy they experience, of course, does not mean they will not see or even experience pain and sorrow, because they will. They are a still a part of the world, and sin continues to harm all those in it. However, they will have experienced the glory which transcend sin and so they will be able to share the glory, the comfort, and indeed, all the gifts they have been given to others; they are truly to share in Christ’s mission in the world, helping to make the world better, preparing it for the eschaton. The Spirit which they experience is not to be held in jealousy, but shared with others so that others can acquire it, and then like them, find their unity with Christ and receive the Spirit which they need to satisfy their own spiritual thirst. Thus, through those permeated by the Spirit, Jesus can and will continue to offer the Spirit to all who come to him in and with love:

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, `Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ (John 7:37-38 RSV).

The church, therefore, is meant to continue the work of Christ in the world. The church is meant to work for the salvation of the world, helping to bring the Comforter to all, so that in the end, God can be all in all as all. Sadly, history shows us that the church does not always do this so well. There have been and are many great men and women in the church who act as Christ expects, so that in and through them, the essence of the church continues to be fulfilled, but, sadly, often those same men and women are discounted, or worse, mistreated, not just by non-Christians, but by their fellow Christians. Nonetheless, these holy people will not be detoured. They know the truth, that the reality of the church transcends the sinful, dark elements seen in world history, that is, it transcends those who would try to use and abuse the church in history for their own ends. Thus, they will speak up against the abuses they see while also continuing to share the joy and grace they have to others, drawing them to Christ so that they too can experience the transcendent church of Christ (which, of course, subsists in the historical church even if it is not limited to it).

The light of the world shines on; it shines in the darkness, bringing flames of love into the world, and though the darkness will try to strangle the light, even within the community of the church, the light will go on and not be extinguished. The tongues of fire continue to spread across the world. The Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of Love, continues to unite people with Christ, and so, also, with each other. The barriers of sin, the barriers which try to deconstruct the world, keeping  everything and everyone separate from each other, continue to be broken down by those who are Spirit-filled, those who have truly embraced their place with Christ and so continue to bring Christ’s presence into the world. The more they embrace love, the more the living stream will flow in and through them, so that those who thirst can find the stream for themselves and have their thirst quenched. The more the grace of Christ is shared by them, the more people will come to Christ, and see, not just the dark side of the church as seen in its history, but the reality which lies beyond that history, the reality of the kingdom of God and the glory which all are meant to participate in for themselves.


Stay in touch! Like A Little Bit of Nothing on Facebook.
If you liked what you read, please consider sharing it with your friends and family!

Browse Our Archives