This post covers the readings from The Acts of the Apostles for Day of Pentecost, Acts 27:13-28:44. For a list of all the readings through the Easter season, click here.
We end our journey through Acts where we began – with the rush of a violent wind. One rushing, violent wind brings the Holy Spirit. This one brings a shipwreck. Paul and his companions find themselves adrift, hungry and thirsty. After their ship strikes a reef, the ship’s passengers, including Paul and his companions, land on the island of Malta and meet new people before eventually journeying to Rome, where we read the closing words of Acts: He lived there two whole years at his own expense and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance (Acts 28:30-31, NRSV).
Yesterday many churches celebrated the feast of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit to empower us to go forth and preach the Gospel, to proclaim the kingdom of God, and to proclaim the love of Jesus Christ for all people. We may wear read. We may read some of the scripture lessons in languages other than the one predominantly spoken in our community. We join together for the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist.
And we all remember our responsibility, our charge from Jesus: Go and preach this love.
This rushing of the violent wind of the Holy Spirit does not mark the end of our journey. Pentecost, while bringing an end to the Great Fifty Days of Easter, does not absolve us of allowing the love and joy of Jesus, crucified and resurrected, to burst forth from us in our thoughts, words, and deeds each moment, each day of our lives.
In fact, it reaffirms that very charge from Jesus. The Holy Spirit rushes into our lives, upending our plans and ideas, pushing us forth into communion with people we call friend and people we’d rather not speak to. The Holy Spirit fills the spaces between our self-centered ideas and strategies for comfort and runs us aground on this self-seeking bend of love. In those cracks and fissures, the Holy Spirit settles in and expands, enlarging us and our capacity for the love preached and lived by Jesus.
We – all of us who claim the faith of Jesus – are called to preach, to live, and to embody this radical, merciful, and eternal love. Each day, not just on Sundays.
Make no mistake, this love is rarely comfortable. Comfort keeps us locked in the rooms of our own expectations. The love of Jesus rocks the ships of our own schemes, running them aground and forcing us to enter new communities, to open our selves and souls to new insights, and to act boldly to serve all in the name of Jesus. Walking, preaching, living, this love is work, and embodying this love will almost always cause us to run aground on the qualities the social culture values. Like Peter, Paul, and the early followers of Jesus, if we’re loving right, we will find ourselves at odds with those who preach affluence at all cost, caring for the poor and needy only if they deserve it, and rhetoric that dehumanizes those people. Living Jesus’ love requires commitment, courage, and work.
Work Jesus is convinced we can do.
Will we make mistakes as we strive to live this love of Jesus?
Yes, as did the disciples as we’ve read in Acts.
We will all agree on exactly how we live this love of Jesus?
No, and neither did the disciples, as we’ve read in Acts.
Will being blown forward by the Spirit into this love lead us to new and extraordinary places, especially places far outside our personal comfort zones?
Yes, as it did to the disciples, as we’ve read in Acts.
The rush of wind of the Holy Spirit moves us, as She moved the disciples gathered in the room, as She moved Paul from the Damascus Road to a life as possibly the most prolific missionary of the early Church. The Holy Spirit moves us to welcome all who come to us, to proclaim the kingdom of God, and to teach about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.
Go forth, and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus. Love boldly and wildly. Bring down walls. Welcome all.
And love each other.
This marks the last post on our journey through the Acts of the Apostles as part of Fifty Days of Fabulous. Thanks to all who read, shared, and commented on posts. Forward Movement has several resources to continue an in-depth study of Holy Scripture. To explore the many ways Forward Movement can empower your life as a disciple, click here.