by Marjorie George
There were 17 by my count — 17 different nations represented by those who gathered in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. There were Medes and Romans and Cretans and a whole bunch of people from nations that I can’t pronounce, much less spell. And here were the disciples speaking in all those languages, and here were the crowds hearing them in their own languages.
Were they drunk? No, for it was only nine o’clock in the morning. Were they surprised? They shouldn’t have been. Christ had said the gift of the Spirit was coming. “I will ask my Father, and he will send you an advocate to be with you forever,” Christ had told his disciples. Through the Spirit, He had said, those who believe would do even greater things than He himself had done. And this Spirit, this continuing presence of Christ, would lead the disciples into all truth (Jn 14:16, 25-26).
Through the Spirit, Christ had said, he would be with them always. Through the Spirit, he had told them, they would be able to preach the gospel to all nations, heal the sick, make disciples, build a church. This is the spirit they heard in at least 17 different ways.
We know this Spirit in our own languages; we call him comforter, counselor, guide, healer, revealer. He is who we need him to be. I learned that from a friend who told me once that the first thing Christ says to us every morning is, “Who do you need me to be for you today?” This day are we walking a path of confusion? Christ through the Spirit will be our guide. Do we need courage going into a hard place today? Christ through the Spirit will be our strength. Are we in need of comfort today? Or healing? Or clarity? The Spirit is all these to us.
But there is another aspect of this happy triad, and it is summed up in the words of one of our Eucharistic prayers – “deliver us from the presumption of coming to this table for solace only and not for strength, for pardon only and not for renewal” (Book of Common Prayer, pg 372) We must ask the question of Christ each day: “Who do you need me to be for the sake of your Kingdom this day?”
Do you need me to be truth-teller in the midst of deception? Do you need me to be mediator in the midst of conflict? Am I to stand firm today as the winds of chaos seek to blow me over? Is there someone this day for whom I need to be comforter? Is it required of me today to practice endurance as I face the long-haul?
Thanks be to God I don’t have to be or do or say anything under my own power. The Spirit has come and continues to come every time I call upon him. In at least 17 different ways.
Come Holy Spirit, as you came on the day of Pentecost, and fill me with your power. Open my eyes to see you as surely as the first disciples saw flames dancing on their heads, and to hear you in the all the ways you reveal yourself to me.
Reach Marjorie at email@example.com.
For your reflection: Whom do you need the Spirit to be for you today?