Draw the Circle Wide: Ripples of the Spirit
[A Drumming Circle opens our worship…..]
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? . . . In our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “People of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my servants, both women and men, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ ”
Ripples of the Spirit……
Are we acting drunk?
Does it appear to you that anyone here this morning has already this morning been nipping on the bottle?
Sure, all manner of things are happening in our story today. About 120 people are gathered together for the Jewish celebration of Pentecost. They had been deciding who would officially take the place of Judas. They had been sitting quietly as our Quakers friends do waiting and wondering about the return of Jesus. It had been 50 days since the Jewish holiday of Passover. How long would they continue to wait and watch?
What’s going to happen next?
Where do we go from here?
These are normal questions that seem to permeate our consciousness when a monumental thing happens. We begin to wonder about what’s next.
What do you do in the meantime?
In our text today – you sit and pray. “All those gathered were devoting themselves to prayer.” You listen for God. You attune every ounce of your being to the presence of God. You expect that the Holy Spirit will show up.
Because — then it happened. While they were waiting, not doing anything, not pressing, not beating their chest, not sending our resumes, not researching for new possibilities, the winds of the Holy Spirit filled the room where they were gathered. The Holy Spirit was poured into each one of them in that room.
Without warning, all of sudden the windows blew open and a cacophony of sound erupted. They all began to speak at once. Confusion. Excitement. Bizarreness. The languages were all different. What had just happened?
A bystander then makes a comment…..They are filled with new wine. They are drunk!
As a non-drinker, but one who has observed plenty of drinkers, I can imagine the scene — gaity, laughter, joy, silliness, loudness, wild speech, general merriment . . . and I can also believe there was more.
Because when someone assumes you are drunk, you are acting out of the norm. You are going against the routine; you are doing things that probably are not thought wise or maybe, safe to do.
Maybe they were shaking hands with every bystander there – those both clean and unclean. Maybe they were loading down tables with food and then going out into the streets inviting everybody to come feast with them?
What! Are you drunk?
When you are filled with the Spirit, you become alive like never before. You hear things differently. You say things differently. You become awake to all that is going on around you. You begin to do wondrous things that you never thought or believed possible. You begin to see the world in a different light, a transformation of vision and hearing occur.
People filled with the Spirit hear the text and see the world with new eyes. They read passages that say “women are to be silent in the church” and they can’t believe that the writer meant them. They are the ones willing to teach the children, to sing in the ensemble, to offer the Call to Worship, maybe even to preach and lead … Oh My! These women were co-creators with God creating the next generation of faithful. If our women were quiet in church, there might not be a church.
But, you can hear those dissenting under their voices, “Jane, sit down and be quiet. Are you drunk? Hush up, You’ve lost control. Filter, Jane – where is your filter?”
When the Spirit shows up, a boldness also shows up. The circles that have been drawn begin to expand wider and wider. The safety net is dropped. The ripples seem to extend beyond where anyone can imagine.
Are you drunk? Why would you even consider solar panels on a church? A steeple is normative for a church. You won’t have one of those; but, you will ponder solar panels?! Do you know how much they cost and how long it will take to recoup your costs?
Peter said, “No, we are not drunk. It’s only 9 a.m. in the morning. We are clear headed, alive and well. We are filled with the fires of the Spirit. We are alive with the Spirit.”
The fires of the Spirit can challenge and singe a bit. When you read this entire book that today’s text come from, The Book of Acts, you hear how we are to relate to our government as the church, how we are to relate to our members who don’t give financially to the gathered body, how we are to address change and multi-culturalism, and how we are called to be Church. When the winds and the fires of the Holy Spirit move among us, life ceases to be normal or maybe even safe.
What are bystanders saying about us?
Are we acting drunk? Are we acting alive and well and full of the Spirit?
Seekers who want to deepen their faith and understanding, full of the Spirit sit still and meditate, waiting on and listening to the still speaking God. It’s not about grades or tests….we are a church not a school system.
When the Spirit moves, new churches are begun different from the rest. The words have changed. The songs may have changed. There are no pews and no organ. Are you sure that you are even a church?
When the Spirit moves, a group marches in a parade. The marchers proclaim statements of justice regarding Farm Workers and their call to support legislation that will offer honor and respect instead of neglect.
When the Spirit moves, one is called to civil disobedience out of love for their fellow humanity’s own freedom and liberation.
When the Spirit fills and consumes us, we are called to work in jobs not to get rich, maybe not even to build a good nest-egg; instead, we are called to work for the hungry, the children, those living in poverty, to provide for our felons or maybe even to work alongside our enemies.
Are you sure you’re not drunk?
When the Spirit takes over the man or woman or child, laughter prevails where once there was hate, judgment and venom.
The Spirit goes beyond our own limited imagination drawing wide the circle more boldly and more courageously than we could ever have drawn ourselves. We are moved into unknown circles that will challenge our beliefs, challenge our grace, challenge our commitments, challenge our love and challenge our resolve.
As the drumbeats align with our heartbeats, can you feel the movement of the Spirit?
Our African brothers and sisters call these drums “talking drums” as they send messages through them to camps across the valleys and ridges. What are these drums saying to you this morning?
Are you alive and assumed drunk? What are you doing to draw wide your circles boldly and courageously?