Summary: For Pentecost Sunday, I wanted to share that we still have a responsibility to be empowered and to be evangelizing.
In the film version of Ray Bradbury’s “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” the action starts with a cold October wind blowing through a Midwestern town. Let’s look at the theater film preview of this film and give you an idea of what I’m talking about. The “October People” had come with their carnival that promised the fulfillment of everyone’s deepest desires. The wind offered the sense of danger, a sense that something was about to change this town and not necessarily for the good.
A little known Johnny Depp film called “Chocolat” began in a village where a sour-faced aristocrat ordered the local priest around and, together, they emphasized sin and penance to the exclusion of the joy of the Lord. One day, in the middle of mass, a wind begins to blow. It gutters the candles, makes the worshippers uncomfortable, and the aristocrat rushes to the door of the church and bolts the doors against the wind. The reason for the wind quickly becomes clear. Two newcomers have come to town to open their “chocolaterie” and they offer a fresh joy of life and new energy for the frightened, subdued town. But in the light of today’s text, I find it ironic that the first doors shut against the newcomers and their refreshing wind was the church.
I also supposed everyone has seen “The Wizard of Oz.” We all know that virtually the entire movie is a dream sequence because of Dorothy being injured in a cyclone, a storm wind. Did you know that they actually built a miniatures set of the Gale farm and destroyed it for the movie, but took out some of the scenes because the cyclone effects were perceived as too frightening? Nevertheless, the beautiful color adventure through the Land of Oz wouldn’t have occurred if Dorothy hadn’t experienced the frightening cyclone. And, since she actually finds out about herself, her courage, her love for others, and her appreciation of home, it is reasonable to suggest that she discovered a certain amount of maturity after weathering the storm.
So, I have suggested three movies which began with a wind sweeping through the lives of the characters. In the first two illustrations, towns were changed; in the last, an individual was changed. It seems safe to say that wind is a powerful metaphor for sweeping away the familiar, the comfortable, and the predictable in order to bring some sort of transformation, be it destructive or be it productive. We also have a wind, a storm wind to be specific, in today’s text, the familiar account of the Day of Pentecost from Acts 2:1-21. [Read the text.]
Most English translations (including the one I just read) merely translate this verse as the Day of Pentecost coming or arriving. That’s what happened, of course, but it misses one of the neat ideas in the verb. The verb is συμπληρο͡υσθαι and it has within it the word for filling up. In other words, there is a built-in connotation that the Day of Pentecost arrived in fullness, the most appropriate time. And I’m really thankful that the Bible uses this verb in verse 1 because it reminds me, right off the bat, that believers who want to function with God-given power have to wait until God’s timing comes about. We can certainly create a lot of confusion and frustration if we get ahead of God.
Forgive me for using a baseball illustration, but the Cubs are playing the Rangers in interleague play right now and this one comes to mind. Some years ago, during W’s time in charge of the Rangers if I’m not mistaken, the Rangers brought up a phenomenal rookie pitching sensation right out of high school. The team was so bad that they didn’t season the kid properly in the minors. They knew he’d be big box office so they brought him up and started him right away. Well, that brought about good news and bad news. The good news was that he won his first start, a sell-out in Arlington Stadium, and did okay in his second start, but it went downhill from there. He finished that season with a losing record and things got even worse during the next season. He pitched portions of five seasons in the major leagues, never having a winning record, and he ended up with the predictable arm injury in the midst of even those five seasons. What happened? He was thrust into trying to do too much before he was physically ready and before he was emotionally ready.
God doesn’t hang His people out to dry like that. God’s timing, whenever we don’t run ahead of God, is perfect and gives us time to be prepared and to be open to God’s Presence and Power. Those little detours and delays that we experience in our lives all serve God’s purpose, God’s timing.