These are dangerous days for the faithful. Liminal days…days spent on the threshold of Pentecost.
I’ve been thinking about that spiritual dynamic since we celebrated the feast of Jesus’ ascension a few days back, by reading from the gospel according to Luke:
‘And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you,” Jesus tells the apostles. ‘But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.’
And so they did. Luke reports that the apostles ‘returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God.’
Until Pentecost, that is.
Pentecost – the promise of the Father, the descent of the Spirit – changed things up a bit for the apostles. Their faith took on an entirely new dimension from that point forward. If you notice, they didn’t spend quite as much time ‘in the temple praising God’. Instead, they went out into the world, to do good works and share the good news. The band of fishermen became fishers of men.
So I wonder: Did the apostles really see that change coming, in their liminal days – the days between Jesus’ ascent and the Spirit’s descent?
And more to the point: Do I consider such a change possible in my own life? Am I open to just such a gift from the Spirit?
If I’m honest, I think the answer is ‘no’. I’m perfectly comfortable with life as a ‘temple Christian’ – someone who wouldn’t mind being continually in church, praising God. It’s nice work, if you can get it.
But then, my heart and mind turn to the stories I’ve heard of modern-day Christians who did find a way to obey the stirrings of the Spirit: Small groups of men – one, in Florida; the other, in Texas – who figuratively lit candles in their communities and wound up launching Cursillo-based retreat ministries that have touched hundreds of thousands of lives during the past 40 years.
So on the threshold of Pentecost 2013, I am moved to wonder: Is this the year I say ‘yes’…finally, fully, completely to the invitation? What holds me back?
You’d think by now I’d know that there really is no safer place for me to be…than in the arms of the Spirit, surrounded by the Body of Christ.