This weekend is a busy weekend for me. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it on my blog, but a few of us in our faith-community started a wedding videography business called inFocus Video Productions. And we are definitely heading into the “wedding season.” So this weekend, I’m filming two weddings on top of celebrating my daughter’s 11th birthday. Happy Birthday, Cathy!!
This season reminds me of two very important facts about my life. First, on a sheer logistical level, I’m getting busy. This fact tears me up. I used to be the kind of person/pastor that viewed busyness as a measurement of value and success. I used to feel that my intrinsic worth was determined by the number of meetings/projects/sermons/Bible studies I was involved with.
Over the years, that has radically changed. While I don’t view busyness as “sin,” I know valuing busyness as a measurement of worth is sin. I also know that inward hurriedness (something associated with, but different from outward busyness) is also sin. So I get a little nervous during busy times like these. As a recovering hurried-aholic with all the symptoms of time pathologies, I know that I can get hooked easily. Extended times of busyness can nurture hurriedness within me if I’m not careful. I know it happens because when the outward busyness ends, I still feel the inward hurriedness. I want to become like Jesus who could live in the midst of busyness, yet remain unhurried and relaxed.
The second thing that the wedding season does is remind me of the great Story I live in. Revelation 21 depicts the renewed heavens and earth as a bride and groom coming together in marriage (Rev 21:1-4). The finale of this Story, or the part of the Story as recorded in Scripture, is the emergence of the new creation with its two dimensions of heaven and earth perfectly married as was intended in Genesis. This is the life of God! Every wedding I film reminds me of this mystery — the finale of God’s Story.
Part of that Story, especially for us who live with one foot in this creation and one in the next (as every follower of Christ should), is Pentecost. This Sunday we celebrate the coming of God’s Spirit in an unique and powerful way to God’s people as part of the dawning of God’s New Creation that was inaugurated by Jesus’ resurrection. The Spirit both is the creating and re-creating Spirit, drawing God’s good creation and history that began in Genesis 1 and 2 toward its finale in Revelation 21 and 22. And that same Spirit lives, works and groans in us.
For Pentecost, I want to share a really cool commentary by N.T. Wright on the Revised Common Lectionary Scripture passages for this Pentecost Sunday (Numbers 11:24-30; Acts 2:1-21; John 7:37-39). Have a blessed and powerful Pentecost:
“Jesus, quoting Scripture, says that rivers of living water will flow out of the believer’s heart. But no Old Testament text says exactly that. Which Scripture is he referring to, then?
“Isaiah 55, of course, issues God’s invitation to all who are thirsty to come and drink. This, however, is not the part of Jesus’ saying that carries the phrase ‘as scripture says’. No: the ‘rivers of living water’ seem to evoke the great river which flows out of the restored Temple in Ezekiel 47, to make even the Dead Sea fresh. The image goes all the way back to the second chapter of Genesis; to call it up indicates the renewal of creation. And it goes all the way on to Revelation 22 — though where the river flows to there is not clear, since the sea, symbolizing the forces of chaos and evil, has been abolished altogether (21:1). Jesus takes the wide-ranging and powerful image and gives it a further twist.
“There is a place in the Scottish Highlands where the broad and tranquil River Dee is funneled in a swirling and seething foam through a gap in solid rock, narrow enough for a foolish teenager to jump across. (Don’t ask me how I know that.) So it is here. The four great rivers that flowed from the garden, the great new river that will stream from the Temple, are to come rushing and churning into, and (equally importantly) out of, the one who believes in Jesus. All the new life of God’s new creation is to be focused on, and channelled through, each believer.
“To invoke or invite the Holy Spirit, then, is not simply to hope for a gentle nudge from time to time, a quiet sense that things are going to be all right after all, though that (thank God!) is often how the Spirit’s presence is known. It is to take the risk of having all that wild, untamable energy sweep through us. The resulting transformation can be dramatic, something which Christians for many years’ standing can easily forget. But the rivers of living water have a purpose. They are not bubbling and whirling around for the sake of it. They are designed, not simply to satisfy our thirst (though they will more than do that), but to irrigate the land beyond us. If the rock is worn into a new shape in the process, so be it. If the expected, even the official, channels seem to be bypassed, as with Eldad and Medad, so be it.
“Peter’s speech on the day of Pentecost was an attempt to explain how God’s wind had come to blow in this way, how God’s fire had escaped from the fireplace of the Temple and was striking flames all over the place. It was nothing short of the promised new creation, undoing the effects of the fall and of Babel. Don’t trivialize Pentecost. Think how the Spirit-imagery works. Water, wind and fire are not tame.”
N.T. Wright, Twelve Months of Sundays: Reflections on Bible Readings-Year A