Octupus Garden and Hooka Hookup, Up in Smoke and Smoke Rings, Highlife and Wonderland, Vapormasters and Mapvapes. With well over a dozen head shops locally, and more on the way, Asheville cares a great deal about inhaling.
Acts 2:1-21 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? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—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, “Men 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 slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
Why does Pentecost matter?
God’s affirmation that we are never alone.
Christmas was the birth of Jesus, Pentecost is the birth of the Church.
Because God gives us the power to speak in way understandable to all.
With the wind knocked out of them and only the stale air of a departed savior in the room, the disciples were left gasping for where to take their next breath. Mend the nets and return to the sea as fishermen? Print out W2 forms and return to collecting taxes? Put a pin on the lapel and return to the Rotary Club of Galilee?
Just like the disciples, we have around 30,000 respirations per day, each a decision of the diaphragm about what to put in our lungs. With so many Christians suffering from breathing problems, why keep inhaling the toxins of aerosols, exhaling the vapors of heavy metals, or holding the breath only to turn blue?
Why does Pentecost matter?
“When Jesus let go of his last breath… for love of us” says Barbara Brown Taylor “[it] hovered in the air… and then it was let loose on earth. It grew, in strength and in volume, until it was a mighty wind, which God sent spinning through an upper room in Jerusalem… God wanted to make sure that Jesus’ friends were the inheritors of Jesus’ breath, and it worked.” Barbara Brown Taylor
Perhaps that’s why so many now identify as SPIRITual, but not religious. That Christianity, in spite of all its institutional complexities and contradictions, is the Pentecostal affirmation that faith is simply breathing in and breathing out the pure breath of God.
In the 10th century, medieval churches had this in common: there was an opening left in the roof. The rain rained down, and the bugs swarmed and the pigeons perched. And the town’s people were always quick to ridicule, asking, “You strange Christians, why would you purposely leave a hole in the ceiling of your sanctuary?”
The response of those filled with the Holy Spirit, “To let the wind blow in.”