Happy Pentecost!! Okay, so I was watching this comeback video – the official title was, “The greatest race comeback you will ever see.” Basically it was a women’s relay race and the camera’s pretty far back so you watch these little figures run. The woman out in front – you can rightfully predict – she’s not going to win if this video is all about the greatest comeback in history….there’s a woman about ten paces behind her who is really pouring it on and beginning to catch fire, but then out from behind her is another racer who starts kicking it up and who begins to take the two leaders when suddenly as the camera is showing the figures cross the numbers at the finish line you realize there is a woman who comes in at the bottom of the screen who actually crosses first. It’s only then that I realized there was a big red arrow in the video pointing her out every once in a while. I went back and played the video again. This runner was not only out of my radar, but not even the announcers really saw her, because of how far behind the other runners she starts her lap. It’s a gap of about eleven seconds. One of the announcers cries out in some kind of Irish accent, “Here she comes from the depths of Hell pumping through.” It was incredible. As she finishes her body simply goes limp and she falls to face like she’s going to need another comeback. So, then there was another video that I caught right after that one of another women’s race – this time it was high school cross country on a pretty elite course. It was completely different, but just as interesting. You see the woman who got out in front led the entire race and never flinched or faded….but it was a seventh grader named…Grace Ping! It struck me that these two women could be an image of the Church. The human element like the “greatest comeback” woman coming from behind (whom I was not able to find a name for – so it could be all of us), never really supposed to win – eeks it out with its last gasp. Then there is also the divine element, ever youthful, also under the radar – but never tires, effortlessly gliding through the course.
Today is the birthday of the Church!! Perhaps one of the misconceptions is to think that God comes down from heaven only to go back up and leave us pretty much alone. It is easy to think that God dwells in heaven and we dwell on earth. But this feast is all about heaven and earth coming together. They’ve come back together nevermore to be divided. Heaven and earth had been growing further apart in a sense as time went on. But, Christ came to reconcile the two and last week Jesus went up into heaven, not to simply perch Himself there, but to bring heaven down to earth or pull more and more on earth into a heavenly life. Think of the Our Father: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. The Book of Revelation speaks of heavenly Jerusalem coming down from heaven to earth. Christ is the embodiment in Himself of what is heavenly (God) dwelling with what is earthly (man) in one Person.
Think about the original split between heaven and earth. The first major tear comes when Adam and Eve become convinced that there is only one thing they lack to be like god. It would be like a toddler thinking that the one thing that separated it from being mature is the ability to hold your smart phone. No, a baby with a smart phone is still a toddler. Later, the people who build the tower of Babel seem to have given up on God. They no longer want to take from Him, but they’ve built this tower to make a name for themselves independent from the name of God. All they need is their togetherness. We could spend all day listing groups of people who thought they were better than others, and yet ended up scattered in their pride. God is a unity, not of pride, but of love. Finally, the Pharisees claim to want God, but in truth they act like they don’t need Him. They spend all their energy separating themselves off from sinners thinking it is the way to holiness, and then when Jesus comes along and reveals His divinity while He walks, eats, and heals sinners – allowing them to touch Him – the Pharisees are confounded. They deny that God could be dwelling with them as this Son-of-Man and believe they can deny His right to live entirely.
The world still seeks to take authority away from God just like Adam and Eve, and so it needs the Church today to receive a new Pentecost. If we listen to God, while God is so high above us (greater than an adult is from an infant) – in the Holy Spirit, He makes us His child and wants to send the fullness of His gifts to elevate us to Himself. There are still people in the world who seek to unite groups of men and women together apart from God to prove their elitism. There are forces seeking to dominate others and make a name for themselves. Therefore the world needs the Church to receive a new Pentecost! Our languages have been confused, but the Church has the capacity to spread the one faith in Jesus Christ and His unifying message of sacrificial love. There are still people in the world who believe holiness comes by separating themselves off from others. Perhaps by forming their own new religions or simply dropping out of the faith of their fathers, spreading division. Therefore the world cries out for the Church to receive a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the conviction that all have sinned, but all can receive the mercy of Jesus if they admit their own sin and humble themselves to ask. The world seems like the woman who goes into her kitchen looking around for something to drink – parched with thirst, but the faucet is shut off and there is nothing in the fridge. She forgets that there is another source of water. Living Water that years ago she had known. If we turn to the Holy Spirit – the answer is the spring of living water that is ready to well up from within her should she simply return to the faith in our Father and the love that has sent His Son into our lives. We are ready for another comeback – perhaps the greatest comeback of all time! Many have forgotten about the Church. She has been written off, but she is still running. Even as she flags, she is moved by divine power. Let us pray, Come Holy Spirit!