It’s the final game of the NHL playoffs, the game is tied in second overtime. Both teams are exhausted but salivating over the possibility of taking home the much-coveted Stanley Cup. Some furious skating, lightning-speed passing of the puck, back and forth, back and forth, when, at 4:29, a final crisscross of the ice, a desperate feint, and the puck is in! Instant, screaming jubilation and hushed dejection fill the arena. The victors have skated together, packed as one at center ice, sticks high in the air, their fans a mass of jumping, shouting, banner-waving humanity. On the other side of the rink, are tears of disbelief in a coming to grips with that oh-so-near victory evaporating in the celebration of their opponents. It’s a powerful releasing of pent-up emotion that will last for days.
The disciples, too, had emotionally exhausted themselves in their ten-day wait for the arrival of the Spirit promised by Jesus. In an instant, wind, fire, the outpouring, the energizing, the thrill, catapulted them into the city square preaching an unrehearsed message of a loving Gospel according to the teachings of Jesus. The result? A chaotic surge of humanity rushed toward the disciples, clamoring to know more, clamoring to know what to do now that they’d been convicted of the truth of the message just heard. Three thousand people! All asking to be baptized, to be taught, to be included in fellowship, in relationship!
The immediacy of the needs of so many people pushed away all memory of the disciples’ tense period of stressful waiting. What was it Jesus had said to them? Ah, yes: ‘You will be my witnesses.’ Well, this was that. All fear was now replaced by a level of energy never before experienced. There was no time for reflecting on whether or not they were sufficiently equipped to handle the task. It seemed the disciples’ very lives were like lit torches, brightly burning the message of welcome, of acceptance, of salvation extended to all. Where this Spirit anointing would take them was a total mystery to them, still, but one thing was clear: the work being done, the power being displayed, the conviction in so many hearts, was not the disciples’ doing. They were all amazed and joy-filled, watching Jesus accomplish through them the things he himself had done.
May it be said of us. PD