Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pentecost as Divine De/Reconstruction

From Eastern Mennonite University, 1200 Park Rd, Harrisonburg, VA 22802, USA
Photo by Douglas Porter via Flickr
In January of this year I heard Pentecostal scholar, Cheryl Bridges Johns, refer to the happenings at Pentecost as “a feast of deconstruction” which, she added, “is why so many fear it.” Indeed, present at the events recorded in Acts 2 were skeptics who thought these rowdy Jews were drunk at nine in the morning! This deconstruction - the breakdown of all that seems normal and expected - was a work of the Holy Spirit, leading to a divine reconstruction of what it meant to be in Christ, a new creation. No, as Peter clearly saw through eyes of faith, these Jews at Pentecost were drinking from the one true Spirit which God was pouring out, heard as strange speech made normal and seen as tongues of fire resting on all in the assembly.

We Christians in the West have had our ways of seeing and engaging the world from our faith tragically de-enchanted. We try to strategize for the Spirit’s movement, but God does not easily go along with our carefully-laid plans. At Pentecost, then and now, the Spirit acts as the mighty and unpredictable leveler, bringing God's justice and right-ness to bear, pulling down the powerful and lifting up the powerless. In the Spirit, kings and peasants speak together with the tongues of angels, joyfully worshiping God in word, song, and deed.

If we open ourselves to the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit, our life together takes on a new quality. We become enchanted Sunday school teachers and theologians, painters and doctors, farmers and corporate managers, all bound together by the Spirit in Christ's body, the church. The Spirit is pulsing life through this body. Let us drink deeply at this fountain.

[This reflection was originally written for today's worship bulletin put out by the Brethren Press, the publishing house for the Church of the Brethren. I wrote it in January, shortly after the annual School for Leadership Training at Eastern Mennonite Seminary, at which Cheryl Bridges Johns was the keynote. The photo is from a simple search on Flickr, but the one I liked happens to have been taken in the town of our former residence, Ankeny, Iowa, and was even taken while we were still living there.]

No comments:

Post a Comment