The Day of Pentecost
Scripture for the day: Acts 2:1-21; Psalm 104:26-36; Romans 8:22-27; John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15
“Pay it forward” is the notion of paying a favour forward – to someone as an unsolicited good deed – rather than paying back for something done. It was the title of a film in 2000.
Arguably, the greatest act of “paying it forward” is Pentecost – especially when coupled with Good Friday and Easter – when God’s unsolicited and extravagant gift of the Holy Spirit to humanity is made manifest.
Naturally, the invitation to humanity (meaning us) is to keep paying it forward, as those first apostolic recipients did: hearing the story of Jesus, the Christ, hearing the call to be embraced by his words and deeds, to pass on the story, and to keep alive the story in action.
The story of Pentecost is partly a story of confusion: of people who were confused by their unexpected understanding of words that should have been difficult to understand. They were liberated because the message was not spoken only in the divine language of Torah, it broke through the barriers of religious elites, and most certainly was not reserved for the official Latin of imperial oppressors.
Pentecost is about liberation, making God’s word and spirit available and active in all human life – not reserved for some future afterlife, but delivered to challenge humanity to be active in making God’s kingdom come in a present reality.
Nelson Mandela said, “We can change the world and make it a better place.” It is in our hands to deliver upon that challenge. At Pentecost, God speaks and humans understand. The confusion today is not that people understand, it is that they understand but do not act upon understanding.
At Pentecost we give thanks for the gift of the Holy Spirit, and pray for the Spirit to be active in our lives – and to help us to pay it forward in word and action.