Summary: What does the Holy Spirit have to do with my life? The Spirit is power, and presence, and peace, and purpose.
If you all remember last week, we celebrated Ascension Sunday. And as part of that, we talked about Jesus’ ascension promise to the disciples, that they would “be clothed with power from on high.” As you may remember, this “power from on high” that Jesus is referring to is the power of the Holy Spirit. Today we celebrate the fulfillment of that promise. On this Pentecost Sunday, we remember the giving of God’s very Spirit to the believers in Jerusalem, and we celebrate the power of the Holy Spirit that enabled those same believers to begin the Christian Church.
So the Holy Spirit is power. As I thought about that this week, my mind kept wandering to Batman; most particularly, to that original Batman movie from back in the 60s. I’m sure many of you know the one I’m talking about. I really get a kick out of that movie, for lots of different reasons. One of them is that now famous fight scene on the deck of a boat, where Batman and Robin are trying to fight off every villain known to the heroes. As Batman kicks at Penguin and throws punches at The Riddler, the movie freezes every few frames to insert an expression. “Kabaam!” “Swoosh!” “Aargh!!!” It is a comical scene, made even more comical by the expressive interludes intended to help us see Batman and Robin’s clear superior powers. And then, of course, there’s Robin’s humorous comments: “Holy demolition, Batman!” “Holy bill rights!” or “Holy sardine, Batman!”
Do you begin to see why Batman kept coming to mind this week? I mean, take a little imaginative liberty for a moment and think about if this first Pentecost scene had been narrated by Robin instead of Luke. “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven, Holy Wind!” “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire, Holy Fire!” “All of them were filled with the…Holy Spirit, Batman!” And “KABLAAM,” that’s the power of the Holy Spirit!
It’s quite a dramatic display, isn’t it? Not unlike all the hoopla in that old Batman movie. Of course, this coming of the Holy Spirit is Jesus’ promise of God’s continuing presence with us. How could that first Pentecost be anything but incredibly amazing? But it’s difficult for us to imagine such an event. It’s hard to conceive of the power of that violent wind and the tongues of flame. We can barely conceive of a cacophony of voices and languages, where all can still hear and understand everything that is being said. Yet this is what happened with God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, and it happened because of the power Holy Spirit. Because we weren’t among that first gathering of Christ’s church, we have difficulty understanding the power of the Holy Spirit that was experienced by those first believers on that day. As we read through Luke’s accounting of Pentecost, we might even wonder, “what’s the big deal?” “What does the Holy Spirit have to do with everyday life? What does the Holy Spirit have to do with my life?”