Acts 2:1 “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.”
This is an odd weekend. For most of American culture it is Memorial Day weekend, and for the average American that simply means a day off when tradition says you should go to a park or a beach or at least into your own backyard or balcony and grill something outside. And drink beer.
For a smaller percentage of Americans it is a time to remember the dead and make sure the burial plots of your loved ones are mowed and have flowers. A smaller subset of those folks remember that it is the dead fallen in war that the holiday is aimed at, although perhaps more remember that these days as the flag-covered caskets keep on coming from the quagmire named Iraq.
A smaller percentage still cry out from emptier-than-usual churches (as everyone heads for that beach) that it is Pentecost, which for a long time was a church holiday with greater emphasis and importance than Christmas. It celebrates the day that God poured out the Holy Spirit directly on Christian believers about 50 days after the death and resurrection of Jesus. We call it the birthday of the Church, since the power of God’s Spirit was what turned a bunch of scared fishermen cum disciples into apostles with the boldness to proclaim the good news throughout a hostile world.
A tiny percentage of that group remembers with the Jews that the whole reason the disciples were gathered in an upper room in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit came was that they were there to celebrate the Jewish festival of Pentecost, which commemorates the giving of the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai. The law on tablets of stone turned a ragtag, grumbling bunch of ex-slaves into a nation. The law written on the hearts of believers that Jerusalem morning almost 2,000 years later turned a similarly challenged bunch of folks into a force that changed the landscape of the world.
As I searched for a thread in all of it, I noticed that in all the varieties of celebration and remembrance this weekend, there was an emphasis on gathering together. Whether gathering with friends over burgers and beer, gathering with the communion of saints at a graveside, gathering at a parade to honor the war dead, gathering in church to receive the Holy Spirit, or gathering in synagogue to keep the Law of Moses alive in daily life, the weekend calls for gathering.
Jesus said that where two or three are gathered in His name, he is there. I think that recognizes the power of the group. It can be a negative power—the power of gangs and riots—or it can be the powerful love of friends and family, church and synagogue for each other and for the beliefs they share. God can show up and great things can happen anywhere at any time, but all things come with more power—rushing winds and tongues of flame even—when we are gathered together in one place.
Spirit of God, bind us together in your love. Amen.
SpiritWalkers is available in audio as a podcast. Visit www.annerobertson.com/poddevotions.html to subscribe or to listen online.
My new book, God’s Top 10: Blowing the Lid Off the Commandments, has shipped. Order now on Amazon.com or check local bookstores.