“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.” Acts 2:1
As I read those familiar words about the day of Pentecost my heart dropped. Although Pentecost isn’t the exciting celebration of Christmas or Easter, it is none the less, the birthday of the church. It should make us see red! (the liturgical color of the day) #fire, #spirit. But how does one celebrate when we can’t be “all together in one place?”
It has always been the call of the church to spread the good news of hope into uncertainty, and certainty into hopelessness. Today is no different. Faced with uncertainty and disruption, the church must continue to respond with good news, not only of the resurrection but also the coming of the Spirit, the counselor, the comforter.
That being said, I realize that much of what we call normal in the church no longer stands. Adjustments are jarring, and the challenges monumental, but this is nothing new for the church. On that day of Pentecost, the disciples gathered in one place had no idea of what would come next. The last three years with Jesus gave them a glimpse into a new way of life, but now Jesus, the author of that new way, was gone. Will there be a new normal?
Suddenly the Holy Spirit bursts on the scene. The Spirit who has called us through the gospel, enlightened us with gifts, made us holy and kept us in the one true faith, just as he calls, gathers, enlightens, and makes holy the whole Christian church (third article of the Apostle’s Creed).
There is a growing consensus that the COVID-19 pandemic will not just alter 2020, but that it will have lasting impact on the church and will be perhaps a spark for the shaping of ministry in the future. That may be true, but it is nothing new to the church—the spark of the Holy Spirit has been at work shaping and reshaping the church for over 2000 years.
We still have good news to share, hope to bring to the hopeless, certainty to uncertainty. Love and care and forgiveness powered by the Holy Spirit we celebrate on Pentecost. I expect that when we can finally look back on this time, we will see the Spirit at work in powerful ways, leading us along. May that time come soon.