Monday, June 02, 2014

Toward Sunday, June 8, 2014 (Pentecost Sunday)

Scripture:  Acts 2:1-21 and Numbers 11:4-6, 10-20, 24-35

Looking at Numbers 11 and Acts 1 and 2, I am struck by the way God upsets human notions of leadership and authority in the community of faith.  

Prior to Numbers 11, Moses holds all the spirit and is the sole spiritual leader for the people -- their one connection with God's good will.  Once he feels how impossible a role this is, he (probably honestly) expresses the wish that God's Spirit-power could be shared by all.  Nonetheless, his trusty assistant Joshua still feels some jealousy and considerable anxiety when 2 of the appointed 70 Spirit-receivers don't comply with the stated guidelines of the college of elders ("Moses!  Moses!  We have 2 rogue elders not following the rules!").  He is not comfortable with the freedom with which God distributes the spirit of prophecy.

And maybe likewise the first followers of Jesus? 

Acts 1 tells the story of how important it seems to them to re-create the college of 12 disciples (all male) by immediately filling the vacancy left by Judas ("Whew! Now we have 12 again!").  But then in the very next chapter of the story, God swoops down and showers Spirit-power willy-nilly on all who are assembled.

In hindsight the authoring community of Luke-Acts relates this as a wonderful thing, but at the same time cannot deny the uneasiness within the community's leadership about how freely God's Spirit-power is being distributed (see Acts 8:36; 9:13-14; 10:44-45; 11:2-3; 15:1-21).  It takes the followers of Jesus some time and a lot of soul-searching to move beyond the same sort of exclusive notions of spiritual authority that they (and Jesus) suffered from at the hands of the Pharisees.

What does Pentecost mean for us in 2014 as we struggle to walk with God in our time? 

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