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06/07/2003 Entry: "Bithday greetings to the Church"

Pentecost Sunday is the day when the followers of Jesus caught their "second wind". The Church identifies Pentecost not only as fifty days after Easter Sunday, but as a fulfillment of Christ’s resurrection and it is Pentecost, not Easter, which the Church names as its "birthday."

We give such great emphasis to Easter. So how could Pentecost be the birthday? After all, had not the disciples enthusiastically walked with and known Jesus for three years? So, wasn’t the Church born earlier?

Not really.

Although the disciples walked with Jesus, they were unaware of the bigger picture. They also lacked the cohesion that should be typical of a family or a Church. Good Friday had taken the wind from their sails. The disciples remained wracked with fear for the next seven weeks. Now, gathered in the Upper Room in the early morning of the first Pentecost Sunday, they struggled as individuals filled with uncertainty, gloom and emptiness. When the wind of Pentecost blew, they were transformed - they found faith, hope and love.

The first chapter of Genesis speaks of the Spirit of God moving over chaos - the result of that movement was new life, transformation, new possibilities. The Spirit that moved at the creation is the same Spirit who empowered the disciples at Pentecost and creates the Church. The movement of the Spirit never stops. In every age and place the Spirit of God is at work inside the Church and out of it, creating new life and offering fresh gifts of faith, hope and love. Pentecost changed the Resurrection for the disciples from an event that happened to Jesus into an event that happened to them and gave them the strength to offer that resurrection experience to others.

It still happens today. The transforming power of the Holy Spirit is still at work to give us a "second wind" and fill us with the same gifts of faith, hope and love that were so evident in the church following Pentecost. These are gifts not just for the chosen few, but for the whole people of God.

‘Happy Birthday,’ everyone!

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