Acts 2:1–3 (NRSV): 1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.
Jesus had promised the disciples he would send the Spirit to them, to empower them for their gospel mission to the nations. He told them to wait in Jerusalem for the Spirit to come, then they could move out into their world as apostles. So they waited… and then the Spirit came upon them in spectacular fashion. And the church was born.
This passage brings to mind for me a passage from the prophet Ezekiel. In a vision from God, Ezekiel sees the people of Israel lying on the ground as dried up skeletons – with no life in them. God asks Ezekiel “Can these dry bones live?” Then God answers his own question
Ezekiel 37:5–6 (NRSV): 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.
Of course, the Ezekiel text reminds us of the second creation story in Genesis when God breathes life into dust and creates people. Ezekiel tells us God will do it again. And now, God breathes life into the small community of Jesus-followers at Pentecost – and the church is given life.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had opportunity to talk with a number of people who have loved-ones at the end of life. The question that inevitably arises is, “Will my loved-one live?” I don’t know. Only God, who holds life and death in his hands, knows the answer to that question. So we pray for life and healing, leaving the outcome to God.
Lord Jesus, just as you breathed life into the community of believers via the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, we ask that you bring life to us and to our loved ones. Empower us to be witnesses to your love and grace for the world. Heal our bodies. Restore our relationships. Give us a renewed sense of your presence with us in these difficult days. Amen.