All The Inspiration You’ll Need This Weekend: Wright, Tickle and Rohr on Pentecost

Posted by Craig Borlase on 13 May 2016

If you want a little brain food ahead of Pentecost, try dipping into these three. Full links to the original texts at the end of each excerpt…

“The great Pentecost scene, with the wind and fire and the sudden rush of multilingual speech, has confused many in the last generations because it has been set within the wrong story. It has been held up as the archetype of a particular form of Christian experience, a filling and empowering which transforms sleepy or backsliding Christians into lively and zealous ones. Thank God that happens in many different ways, because the church always needs waking up and shaking up, and the day we forget that or resist it we might as well crawl away under a stone. But that isn’t the story which Luke is telling at this point. There is nothing wrong with the disciples before Pentecost; they are praying, worshipping, joyful followers of the risen and ascended Jesus, simply awaiting further instructions and the power to carry them out. And the story which Luke is telling doesn’t focus on them and their spiritual experience, though it includes that. Luke’s story is about God and God’s kingdom and about the sovereign lordship of the risen and ascended Jesus.…”  – NT Wright

“If you’ve ever read in the Gospel of John… there’s a verse in there in which Jesus says to them, “And after I am gone you will receive the Holy Spirit.” And St. John says in that verse “…for the Spirit had not yet come upon them”… And you wonder, “So, the Spirit is not yet here?” The Spirit hasn‘t been here since we buried ol’ Malachi (not that we cared a lot about him)? But…we’re waiting for Pentecost? Okay. I could live with that if you will tell me who spoke when Christ came out of the river Jordan. What was the voice at the baptism that said, “This is my beloved Son”? Who spoke at the Mount of Transfiguration to the Apostles, who said then, “This is my beloved Son, hear Him”? Who was that? Christianity taught it’s the Bat Kol. It’s the voice… the daughter of the voice of God still speaking to them because it is not until Pentecost that we receive the Spirit. And at Pentecost… the great gift of Pentecost is no more need for the Bat Kol. No more need for wisdom per se… no more need for the Shekinah… no more need for all of those things, because the Spirit now is among us actively. The Spirit comes in for the first time… and we don’t have to be prophets… we can be just Jane and Joe public. We just have to be believers. And it is the Spirit that comes and then it is the Spirit that is indeed the “Giver of Life”. – Phyllis Tickle

“Mary is in their midst. They pray. They’re scared, and the doors are locked. They do not know at this point if they have been fooled. Maybe we wanted it so much we created it, they must have thought. Maybe we did it ourselves. Are you sure that was really Jesus who you saw on the road, Peter? You can’t believe those women; they get emotional. How do we know that they really experienced Jesus?… The power comes. By no effort of their own they are made into persons of faith, of conviction, into those who can say, “Jesus is Lord!” That is the dividing line, the day of Pentecost. Finally they are purified. They are free to believe in the power of the Lord. They receive the gift of the Spirit. God had not changed, they had, by the Spirit’s gift.
The Spirit is always unmerited favor. She always does it first. God is experienced as intimacy and warmth and fire, as love-power. She is surprising, elusive and free.
So the Church has always been afraid of the charismatic, has always feared those who speak of the Spirit because they cannot be easily organized. The Spirit blows where the Spirit will, like the wind: It comes from and goes where you know not.” – Richard Rohr

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