From Pauses for Pentecost
Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from Heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
I was born in a South African city fondly known as “the windy city.” A day in Port Elizabeth can begin calmly, and then suddenly gale-force winds can take over and rip through the city. From an early age I learned that, while we cannot see the wind, we certainly can experience it. We can listen to the wind with our ears, feel it on our skin, and breathe it through our nostrils. Around us, we see how it moves the grass, bends the trees, stirs up the waves, and blows up the dust. As a child it wasn’t long before the wind became something for me that could never be tamed or controlled or manufactured. It was totally free, it could blow whenever and however it wanted, it was completely beyond my power to control, and it certainly was much bigger than I was.
When Luke describes that first Pentecost moment, he compares the coming of the Holy Spirit to the blowing of the wind from Heaven. As Tom Wright, the Anglican Biblical scholar, makes clear, the whole point of this metaphor is that through the Holy Spirit, some of the creative power of God comes from Heaven to Earth and does its work right here. Wright writes, “The point is to transform Earth with the power of Heaven, starting with those parts of “Earth” which consist of the bodies, minds, hearts, and lives of the followers of Jesus.” Pentecost is all about the risen and ascended Christ, now with his Father, blowing his powerful presence into our lives in the here and now.
Easter people always seek to stand in the Wind. When we open our lives to the Holy Spirit, Heaven comes to Earth, beginning in and with us. The Spirit energizes our bodies, renews our minds, makes our hearts responsive, and gradually transforms our lives. We become aware of the huge difference between walking against the wind and having the wind at our backs. Let us therefore ask the Holy Spirit to blow out the stuffiness and staleness that may be present in our lives right now. Let us also imagine the Wind blowing through our lives, breathing into us a new freshness, cleansing our vision to see more clearly, and empowering us to live as Jesus would if he were in our place.
Experiment today with an exercise of the imagination. Sit quietly and in the stillness imagine the Wind of God blowing into every part of your life. What might your life look like?