Sunday, May 9, 2021

Acts 2.1-21: Waiting for the Wind

Just last week several tornadoes went through the city where I live. There were more than a dozen throughout the state. No matter how close we are to Pentecost, no one was interested in having that wind blow through. We always get caught up with Pentecost's sound of wind and tongues of fire (Acts 2:1-4), but when we get that (through powerful tornadoes and downed, sparking power lines) it's more frightening than anything else. Which might be closer to the disciples' response to Pentecost than we'd like to think. 

Though it could have been, the wind of Pentecost was not the destructive whirling wind of a tornado or hurricane (we get those, too, where I live). It was a wind that did something - that blew the disciples' minds. That blew them out of the house where they had been hiding and into the street where they told the story of Jesus Christ. It was a wind that did something. It demonstrated God's power by empowering believers to be witnesses. 

What does wind do in our world? It turns turbines that create power. It cools off a sultry summer day. There was a time when it was wind, in combination with the sun, that dried clothes hung on the line. It was hard to find clean water for washing and almost impossible to find  a breeze that would dry the clothes inside the people-packed buildings. Clotheslines were stretched between buildings, clean laundry was clipped on, and then it was the wind - even as a small breeze - that, along with the sun, helped dry the laundry by moving the fabric to aid in evaporation. The wind had a purpose - it caused a change to the thing it touched.

 San Marino, CA: The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. 

Are we positioning ourselves so that the wind of Pentecost can move us to action, can change us, can help us witness to the story of Jesus Christ? 

Sunday, May 2, 2021

John 17.6-19: Leaving This World

 In Jesus' so-called "High Priestly Prayer," he prays, "And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you..." (John 17:11) Jesus did leave this world when he ascended, leaving the disciples standing on Olivet. 

That the disciples were left on the earth as Jesus returned to God is a reminder of the difference between creator and creature. Humans are still in this world, though, and a good effort is expended in helping us see how it feels to leave this world. 

In 1946, rocket scientists in New Mexico launched a captured Nazi V-2 rocket into space. One of the things they equipped the rocket with was a 35mm motion picture camera. Filming as the rocket moved about 65 miles above the earth's surface, the camera captured the first pictures of earth from just beyond the beginnings of outer space. This wasn't the first image of the curvature of the earth, but it gave earth-bound humans a different view of the place where they live. The film and camera survived the rocket's crash landing because it had been secured in a steel container.

First photo from space. October 1946. (White Sands Missile Range/Applied Physics Laboratory)

Almost thirty years later, humans would see this world from even farther away, courtesy of the 'Blue Marble' photo taken by the crew of Apollo 17. 

Jesus' prayer continues, " I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them.... They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. ...As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world." It's clear from Jesus' prayer that to follow Jesus is to remain here in this world, active, moving, continuing the work that Jesus did when he was in this world. It's not hard to understand, though, why we continually want to see what it's like to be far above it.