Are you tired?
Not like "I need a nap" tired or "I need a good night's sleep" tired, or even "I need a vacation" tired. All those things would be great, but no, not that kind of tired. I mean "spiritually" tired, I guess. Uninspired, lacking enthusiasm and an overall "joie de vivre." I think you probably know what I mean. You might even be feeling it, too.
And that's not good. Because it's Pentecost this week, the so-called "Birthday of the Church," the day that celebrates the Holy Spirit coming into the apostles and empowering them to preach and teach and spread the story of Jesus.
But I'm tired. That's a little awkward. I need to be able to deliver some inspiring words of wisdom, some spirited words of inspiration and enthusiasm. That should be easy because it's a great story. The disciples have spent some time with the resurrected Jesus and he's left them, but he left them with the promise of the Holy Spirit, advocate and comforter, that would come to them and empower them to carry on what he had taught and showed them. And here it was, the feast of Pentecost, and there is a mighty wind and tongues of fire and they begin to prophesy in every language of those who could hear them so that all could understand. Come, Holy Spirit, come!
But I'm not feeling it, to be honest. I've got nothing new. I've got some great Bible Study material, sure, but just can't find the inspiration.
To be honest, I don't really feel like those apostles who were anticipating the coming of the Holy Spirit. Yes, Jesus died and that was scary, but Jesus is alive again, "as he said," and he also said that the Holy Spirit was coming. You can sense the anticipation. And here it is. That's awesome.
But I'm feeling more like that story in Ezekiel about the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14). Dry bones, just lying there in the sun. Waiting, not anticipating anything. Just lying there until Ezekiel brings the word of God to them.
Anyway, I could think of nothing to say. So I went and mowed the lawn.
Yeah, that's right, on a Wednesday afternoon even. (Of course, now I'm writing this in the middle of the night.) And if you've read me before, you know that I don't garden - I have a black thumb - and I only mow the lawn or prune trees because I have to, and I'm not real happy about doing that. But I have to do something.
Yes. Yes I do. I have to do something.
And that's just the flesh and sinew. In the story from Ezekiel, the first prophesy of Ezekiel puts flesh and sinew on the bones, but the bodies are still not alive. It's only with the prophecy of the breath of the four winds, the breath of God, that they become alive.
How often do we just act out or go through the motions of doing the right thing, saying that we are following Jesus because we are doing the things "church" says we should? I doubt that organization or structure was on the agenda of the apostles the day after Pentecost. I bet their "agenda" said three things: one, know that Jesus is in your heart; two, be like Jesus; three, show others how to be like Jesus.
That's the breath of God, the fire of God and the voice of God.
Don't get me wrong, I love the church. I love the community, I love the sharing of heartfelt joy, questions about life and seeking wholeness. I love the heart. But, sometimes, maybe we could have less meetings. Maybe, instead, we could meet a neighbour for coffee, you know, that neighbour who'd had a little trouble recently or lost a family member. Maybe you can't be in the building Sunday morning, but you can help plant the community garden Saturday morning. Maybe you could bring that neighbour with you. Maybe a service isn't for you, but you have questions about that thing Jesus said and you'd like to talk about it. Maybe a pew's not for you, but you know that Jesus is.
This Pentecost, I hope our little community of faith never loses its heart. Buildings and bodies are useful, even meaningful when used with heart, but the Spirit is more than bones, more than flesh, it's the breath of God that brings life.