“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.” – Joel 2:28-29
In the early months of 2020, almost everyone I know had plans, for vacations, work events, visits with family, and weekly rituals. But in what seemed like a moment, all of the things we anticipated, all of the plans we made, were consumed in the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. After months of social distancing, quarantine, and staying home, it’s easy to feel like there is nothing left to which we can look forward. The things we used to anticipate have been taken away from us, and we find ourselves in a holding pattern.
In the midst of all of this, we approach Pentecost Sunday. The day where we as the people of God celebrate the birth of the Church has a bittersweet tinge when many churches are still unable to meet safely. But I can think of no better time to contemplate the gift of the Holy Spirit. Like the disciples in the upper room, we find ourselves waiting patiently for something the change. I wonder if the disciples ever felt like their prayer and watching was interminable, a never-ending process that wore at their hearts. I wonder if their anticipation ever felt like foolishness. I wonder those things, because that is how I feel. I feel like I have anticipated deliverance for so long that it has become unattainable in my heart.
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But as the disciples learned on that Pentecost so many years ago, we do not wait in vain. The Holy Spirit did what mankind has failed to do for millennia: He healed divisions and created unity. That is what I find most inspiring in the midst of pandemic. We find ourselves distant physically, and divisions are often exploited by those who do not care for the ways of the Kingdom. If ever we have needed unity and oneness, it is now.
That is what lends such power to the words of the prophet Joel that Peter quotes in Acts chapter 2: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.” Indeed, this is not just the promise that we await, but one that we are already experiencing. The Holy Spirit has come upon the Church, and is working among us this very day. When we consider this remarkable fact, we truly see that serving in the kingdom always gives us something to look forward to.