Summary: Why do we want to pray for the Holy Spirit to come?
When you hear the word kamikaze what comes to mind? Allied sailors who served in the Pacific during World War II would probably think of Japanese airplanes deliberately slamming into Allied ships. Although kamikaze pilots didn’t stop the advance on Japan, they did manage to sink about 50 vessels and kill close to 5,000 sailors – enough damage to panic any Allied sailor who saw a Japanese airplane bearing down on his ship.
Many know that much about kamikaze but the origin of the word goes back much further than 1944. In the 13th century Mongols, under the leadership of Kublai Khan, invaded Japan twice. Both times they were turned back by ferocious storms. The outmatched Japanese believed that the gods themselves had fought to defend Japan so they called these storms Kamikaze or “divine wind.”
Interestingly enough “wind” is the word that the Bible sometimes uses for the one we know as God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit even made his appearance on Pentecost accompanied by what sounded like a violent wind (Acts 2:2). The apostles welcomed this “divine wind” as will we. While Kamikaze is not the Japanese word for the Holy Spirit (that’s Seirei), I want to “borrow” it for this sermon and invite you to find out with me why we want to pray, “Come, Kamikaze. Come!”
Before Jesus ascended into heaven he told his disciples to hang out in Jerusalem until they received the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. If you’ve ever sat at home waiting for the cable guy to show up “sometime between 1 pm and 6 pm,” you know how anxious the disciples must have been when a week went by and the Holy Spirit didn’t show. Had Jesus forgotten to send the Holy Spirit? Or had the Holy Spirit gotten lost? In all, the disciples would have to wait ten days before the Holy Spirit made his appearance. But there was a reason for the delay. The Holy Spirit had wanted to arrive on Pentecost.
Pentecost was an Old Testament harvest festival. It was a religious festival on which every male believer was expected to go to Jerusalem to offer the first sheaf of his wheat harvest. And so on that Pentecost 2,000 years ago there were many in town from as far away as Rome, Arabia, and present day Iran and Iraq. In God’s mind there could be no better day for a harvest of souls than on Pentecost.
This reminds me how when we pray, “Come, Kamikaze. Come!” we’re not snapping our fingers and demanding that the Holy Spirit work according to our timetable. We can’t control the Holy Spirit any more than we can control the wind. We may like him to convert this individual or that individual today, or work in the heart of that immature believer now but he may not. It doesn’t mean that he’s uninterested. As God, the Holy Spirit wants all to be saved but he works according to a divine timetable that doesn’t always make sense to us. Still his timing is always the best as was proved on Pentecost some 2,000 years ago.
So what exactly happened on that Pentecost? When the disciples were gathered together in a house they suddenly heard something like a violent wind, and then they saw little tongues of fire settle on top of each of their heads. The Holy Spirit had arrived! Not that he wasn’t there already. You see the disciples would never have left their lives to follow Jesus had the Holy Spirit not first worked faith in their hearts. The Apostle Paul made that clear when he wrote: “…no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3b). But now the Holy Spirit came in a visible way to give the disciples special gifts they would need to carry out Jesus’ Great Commission to preach the Word to all peoples. Accordingly the Holy Spirit gave the disciples (and possibly other followers of Jesus) the ability to speak in foreign languages they had never studied before. This was the perfect gift for Pentecost when there were so many people in Jerusalem from different parts of the world. The disciples now could tell these visitors about Jesus in their own native tongue.
“Come, Kamikaze. Come! Give me the gift of language!” I’ve prayed that before a Greek test or two, and you may have prayed a similar prayer while lost in a foreign country. Has God answered that prayer? Has the Holy Spirit ever suddenly given you the ability to speak Spanish without an accent while vacationing in Mexico? Has he ever opened your ears so you could understand the conversation of the two Ukrainian babas sitting next to you on that park bench? Maybe not but he has given you gifts all the same. You may be good with your hands. It could be that crunching numbers is a delight for you, or making music comes as easily as walking. How are you using these gifts? Note how the disciples used their gift of language. They didn’t hire themselves out as tour guides to the hordes of visitors in Jerusalem to make a quick buck; they declared the wonders of God (Acts 2:10). Are we using our gifts to declare God’s wonders? Or are we, like the people in our Old Testament lesson who built the Tower of Babel, eager to make a name for ourselves? (Genesis 11) When we pray, “Come, Kamikaze. Come!” it should not be for him to make us famous or rich. It should be so that we are better able to tell and show Jesus’ love to others.