Last week I spoke of the Ascension as the final moment at which the curtain was pulled down on Jesus earthly life and that it marked the transitional moment for Jesus to enter the notion of the universal Christ expressing the nature of the divine in all that is.
I proceeded to indicate that it had great significance for his followers. It was the moment they lost their great friend and inspiration. The point of greatest grief. They were overwhelmed with his great loss so that they stood there raw and spiritually naked. Overwhelmed with the absence of a new faith that had been growing. As unpleasant as aloneness and loneliness is for anyone, many have found that it is a significant turning point.
Sometimes we have to hit rock bottom to open ourselves to something greater than we have ever known before.
Ten days after Pentecost, the Jewish nation celebrated the abundance of the harvest. It was a celebration of thanksgiving for the fruits of life. We read that in their gathered assembly for worship the manifestation of a new energy was overwhelming so that it seemed like a great wind and a display of tongues of fire. A quality of human experience was released so that speaking in their own language they could actually understand one another. It was a manifestation of a unity of humanity like never before.
It was revealing a vision that was to become the hallmark of not only the Christian community, but a vision they were to work for, for the good of all people. Father may they be one as we are one, are the words of Jesus in John’s gospel.
THE TWO EXTREMITIES OF LIFE
So within ten days we are presented with the extremities of experience. Ascension and Pentecost.
On the one hand - following the ascension - total aloneness.
On the other hand - the fullness of belonging - Pentecost.
We live within this range. Both are important to understand as important windows to the divine. The essential understanding is that no matter which end of the scale, all experience is sacred and important as part of the spiritual journey. In those darkest, loneliest of moments, the call of the divine requires us to humbly learn the way of listening. To sit in the darkness of silence.
Pentecost speaks of the other extreme experience. Firstly it highlights the potential of communal experience. The multi relational potential raises humanity to great heights.
The godly community can potentially cut across all boundaries and if it shows respect for all people nothing can fragment it.
The day of Pentecost illustrated this with a highly elevated manifestation of godly spirit. This was the display that created a vision for Jesus followers to aspire to.
As the years of the first Christian community went by, it was evident that different people discovered when grounded in a life of prayer they displayed elevated gifts for the building up people’s life, teaching, leadership, healing. And in a general sense all people were called to live with an attitude of godliness.
Paul listed the gifts of the spirit, as love, joy, peace, long suffering, mercy, truth and generosity. These are all foundational aspects to living the life of Christ.
MOUNTAIN AND VALLEYS
Life in the spirit is not one elevated high. It is a journey over mountain and into the valley ad infinitum. The further we journey, the more we claim the identity of the Christ. It is the spirit of the universal Christ that Jesus promised would come when he had gone. It would remind us of all of what he had said and guide us into all truth.
Through these 10 days from Ascension to Pentecost we have entered the womb of transformation. At Pentecost our birth has come. As we say.
‘We are the body of Christ.
His spirit is with us.’