By Pastor Nathan Clements American Lutheran Church, La Porte City
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? [I]n our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.” ~ Acts 2:1-8, 11b-13 (NRSV)
During my summer breaks in college I served as a camp counselor at Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Center in Oregon, IL. Some of my favorite memories came from overnight canoe trips with our older campers. We would depart after lunch to our drop-off location, paddle for a few miles downstream on the Rock River, turn right into Mud Creek, pull ashore, unload our canoes, and haul our equipment up a steep (and usually very slippery) hill to our campsite. We pitched our tents near the picnic shelter, cooked supper and cleaned up, played a game in the big, grassy field, and had a Bible study and campfire before bedtime. Those were wonderful evenings immersed in the beauty of God’s creation. But, I will never forget the night that scared me more than any other moment in my life to that point.
It was moments before bedtime, so some of the campers were in their tents and others were sitting by the campfire. Suddenly from above there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the campground where we were sitting. The lightning was so constant that I could see the wind whip the trees and our tents as if it was daylight. The thunder constantly rolled. The nearest 4-walled shelter was across the grassy field, so my fellow counselors and I jumped into action to move everyone to safety. Branches started falling from the trees as we collected our group and ran together to the shelter. I had never heard, felt, or seen wind like that before, and it was terrifying. When we had arrived at the shelter and had everyone accounted for, the wind seemed to stop as quickly as it had started. We were all safe, but our campsite was leveled. I called the camp office and they came to pick us up in vans. The National Weather Service later confirmed it was an isolated microburst that fell right overtop of us. In an instant, our peaceful camping trip and evening around the campfire changed and couldn’t be the same again.
The Holy Spirit made quite the entrance on the day of Pentecost. Jesus’ disciples were seated in a home in Jerusalem when, without warning, the sound like a rush of a violent wind filled the house, and their lives changed and couldn’t be the same again. They were given the ability to speak all the languages of the earth to spread the good news about God’s deeds of power. Barriers were broken, limitations were dismantled, and the presence of God caused amazement among all who gathered at the frightful sound of the wind. Rather than an isolated incident, this macroburst of the Spirit would spread its effect far and wide, reaching across the globe through generations of God’s people who proclaimed the love of God in Jesus Christ. We, today, continue to be swept up in this wind of change, compelled to share this good news even when those around us may sneer or disregard the message. We must remember that Jesus himself told his disciples, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
As disciples of Christ, and sons and daughters of the Pentecost, it is our duty and our joy to continue spreading the good news of God’s love, forgiveness, and salvation through Christ our Lord. May there be rush of wind in your life of faith to amaze and encourage you to share this message boldly, and may your Spirit-given gifts shine brightly through you this Pentecost and beyond.