Acts 2:1-11, May 31, 2020, Pentecost Sunday
When the Holy Spirit descends upon the apostles in today’s first reading, they are huddled together in fear. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, they are uncertain about their future. They have locked themselves in an upper room, separated from their normal routines. Their situation is very similar to ours over the last number of months. We too have been separated from society and our normal routines. We miss the freedom of movement with which we were familiar. Despite the disciples’ fear, the Holy Spirit comes to them. The Spirit comes not to console them, but to empower them. The Spirit rushes as fire upon them to enable them to preach the good news of God’s love. The fire of the Sprit is not a communal fire but an individual one. Each disciple receives his or her individual tongue of fire. This is the Spirit’s way of indicating that each of us has his or her own particular way to proclaim God’s love.
Today, we are gathered together again after many weeks of absence. We are comforted that we can again see friends and ministers who we have not seen in a long time. We are encouraged that we can again come together as a parish community and worship together in our parish church. We are thankful because we can participate in the Eucharist and share Holy Communion. But the Spirit, who is the source of all of these gifts, does not come to us today to comfort us, but to empower us. The Spirit calls each one of us to take up service to one another that each one of us has been given.
I think we have all been impressed over the last couple of months by government officials, healthcare providers, funeral directors, and many others who have continued fearlessly to do their work in the face of this pandemic. I am rather sure that if we were to thank them for what they have done, most of them would simply say, “I was just doing my job.” That’s how they have become the heroes of our time, simply doing what was needed because they could. They did what they were called to do. That is what the Holy Spirit asks of us, simply to do our job.
And every one of us has a job. I spoke last week on the phone to a woman in her late eighties. She has been sheltering in place since last March. During the conversation I said, “Betty, what are you doing to fill up your day?” “Oh, Father, she said, I’m busy every day. You see, I am a mother, I am a grandmother, and a great-grandmother. I have lots of friends. So, each day, I make a list of six to eight people that I will call that day. I want to call them to know how proud I am of them; how much I value them. Of course, I did this before the coronavirus, but doing it now is more important than ever. I want everyone in my life to know what they mean to me.” Betty was doing her job. She was bringing Christ’s love as she called the people in her life to share her love with them.
The Spirit calls you and I today to do our job, to find our particular way to show Christ to others. How do we, as an employer, as a cashier, as a doctor, as a college student, offer that love? That is the Spirit’s mandate. That is why the Spirit has given to each of us our own individual fire. In this time more than ever, it is important to let that fire burn bright.