This is Pentecost. God effects a new creation. The old is gone; the new has come. Through a massive invasion of grace, a valley of dry bones gets a new lease of life. A dispersed and confused people find a new togetherness and speak a new language.
People drenched with fear and savaged by disappointment now experience the miracle of renewal. The dead are raised to life again. Order replaces chaos; new community displaces wayward individualism.
They thought the day of their liberation had come, but it turned into a nightmare. Then, at Easter, it became clear that they had survived the night of gloom and had arrived at a new dawn with joy. Now, with the Son ascended, what were they to expect?
They waited in Jerusalem. Passover was to be followed by Pentecost. Easter joy was to be consolidated into a lifelong blessing as, through divine empowerment, God opened up for everyone the path to new life.
The signs of the new creation are clear. The mighty wind of the Spirit is blowing; tongues of fire descend, not to consume each and all, but to constitute a new community. The gift that is given is for everyone. This is nothing less than a community transformation. This is a new creation. There is resurrection on a vast scale. The church comes to full fruition.
Pentecost is not merely about God creating new individuals. It is, instead, about the formation of a new community -- the community of the Holy Spirit. If the Son has been withdrawn, God is still present, breathing new life, strengthening bonds of love, giving abundant energy for the execution of an exciting mission. The gift that God gives is eternal life, proclaimed in preaching and signified in baptism. The illumination and empowerment given constitute the community for its mission.
Yet, do we not long to see the unmistakable signs of this gifted and vibrant community at work again -- fashioning friendship, making disciples, inspiring selfless service? Where is the joy, the love, the peace that the life-giving Spirit gives? Where is the passion for engagement in the mission on which God sends this beloved community?
This Pentecost, may the God-formed, Spirit-shaped community rise up again, claiming its heritage in Christ, discerning its unity and grasping the gifts it has received to fulfill its mission.
Baptist World Alliance
The message in other languages can be read at www.bwanet.org