When the day of Pentecost had come, they [those who had followed Jesus] 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 one of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. (Acts 2:1-4)
Ruach – Hebrew word translated as breath or wind or Spirit.
Pneuma – Greek word translated as breath or wind or Spirit.
God’s presence in scripture is often expressed as wind or breath or spirit (Ruach/Pneuma). In the Genesis story of creation, the breath/spirit of God swept over the face of the waters (Genesis 2). In the Christian story of Pentecost, the followers of Jesus experienced the gift of the Holy Sprit as a rush of a violent wind (Acts 2:2). Have you ever experienced God’s presence as this moving wind of Spirit?
Wind is a powerful metaphor for many of our experiences of God. (Of course, every metaphor limits as well as expands our understanding, which is why we use so many metaphors for God: shepherd, creator, shield, fortress, father, savior, mother, rock…. Each metaphor we use expresses a different aspect of our experience of God.)
Wind is always in motion and it always moves whatever it touches. Wind can be a gentle breeze which teases and caresses, or a strong gust which blows and pushes, or a whirling tornado which threatens and destroys. There are times when wind is quiet or silent, times when we experience wind as a surprise or relief or delight, and times when wind knocks us off our feet or destabilizes us so completely that we cannot stand. What are your experiences with wind?
If you replace the word “wind” in the previous paragraph with the word “Spirit,” might this describe some of how you have experienced God’s presence in your life? When have you experienced the gentle moving Spirit of God? Have there been times it seemed like God has been quiet or silent in your life? When have you been destabilized and knocked over by God?
The story in Acts describes the Spirit as “a sound like the rush of a violent wind” which destabilized and changed their lives. They had been sequestered away in fear and uncertainty about what to do next after Jesus had died, and even after their resurrection experiences of Jesus. The Spirit moved them to speak up and speak out – in many languages – to tell the stories of their experiences and understanding of Jesus. How have you experienced God’s presence in the midst of this pandemic, physical distancing and destabilization, even as we search for healthy and safe ways to remain connected as the church? How might God be moving you/us into new ways of being people of faith in our world today?
Spirit of God, blow through us and move us into new and creative ways of being your faithful, compassionate people. Breathe into us your Spirit of life and promise and hope and vitality. Transform us with the winds of your Spirit so we may be your witnesses as your wind-blown disciples and may be empowered by your Spirit serve others throughout this world. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.