The Lingering Question of Pentecost

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Photo by Boris Ulzibat on

Embracing the Gravity of the Question

Some questions are meant to linger, to defy hasty answers, and to bounce around in our minds for weeks, months, or even years. These are the questions that hold such gravity for us that any quick response or shift away from them would disrespect their importance in the history of humanity. The question asked by those present on the Day of Pentecost was one such question.

The Arrival of the Holy Spirit

In Acts 2:12, we read that the people were “amazed and perplexed” and asked, “What does this mean?” The coming of the Holy Spirit, first in a wind and then in fire, empowered the disciples to do things they couldn’t previously do, even when Jesus was around. The Holy Spirit enabled them to share the good news with everyone, regardless of language, all about what Jesus had done and how God’s kingdom was truly on the way.

But perhaps more significantly, the arrival of the Holy Spirit signified God’s intentional choice to not just reside around us or beside us, but to be in and through us – God’s presence with us and in us, everywhere, all the time. This was one of the most impactful, wonderful, and powerful moments ever, and the question “What does this mean?” arose in response.

The Missed Opportunity to Linger

However, the text tells us that Peter quickly intervened, trying to explain the events and address the questions people had. Instead of allowing the question to linger, Peter rushed to provide a sermon, which ultimately led to thousands coming to follow Jesus that day.

But what if Peter had waited? What if he had given more time to linger on the question, “What does this mean?” It is in the lingering on this question that we can wonder why God would intentionally reveal a new understanding of His presence in the way of the Holy Spirit – a presence that resides within us, everywhere, all the time.

The Deeper Implications of the Holy Spirit

Jesus’ presence on Earth was to solve problems and answer questions, such as what God would be like in the flesh and how we can get right with God again. But the coming of the Holy Spirit seems to suggest that God is still answering these questions and solving these problems, not because He is figuring things out, but because He is longing to reveal to us more and more about the true nature of His presence with us.

It’s as if God is saying, “Yes, after Jesus’ teaching, death, resurrection, and ascension, there is still more I have to say to you. There is still more to reveal to you about how close I actually am, how close I long to be with you.”

Lingering on the Pentecost Question

The message of Pentecost is not that God has simply “taken care of it” and we don’t need to worry anymore. Instead, the message is that God is still stepping closer, still trying to impart to us a sense of presence that may be beyond our understanding – a presence that inhabits and is active in our every movement, thought, and footstep, in our fears and triumphs.

So, the question for us this Pentecost season is, what is it that you’re going through today, and what does it mean to you to know that God is stepping closer still, working in every detail in ways so intricate that we can’t even see, feel, or sense it sometimes? The best way to celebrate Pentecost may be to linger a bit longer on the question that didn’t get a chance to linger long that day – the question of what it means for the Holy Spirit to abide in us.

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