Forward Today: It starts with showing up

Duccio di Buoninsegna, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Dear friends in Christ,

This Sunday, we celebrate the Day of Pentecost, fifty days after Easter Day, completing our celebration of Eastertide. The events of this most astounding day are told for us in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.

Here’s the beginning of the account: “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:1-2).

Why were the disciples gathered in the first place? They were keeping the feast of Pentecost, exactly fifty days after Passover. Jews today still keep this feast fifty days after Passover, and it’s called Shavuot. The point is that the disciples of Jesus were doing what people of faith do: keeping a cycle of fasts and feasts.

There’s no particular reason to think that the disciples knew that the Holy Spirit would descend on the church on this particular day. Jesus had promised the arrival of the Spirit, but he wasn’t specific about the timeline. So when that amazing Day of Pentecost dawned, the disciples—perhaps still reeling from the sorrow and awe of Holy Week seven weeks before—had to make a choice. They chose to show up, to keep the feast.

In other words, they didn’t leave their homes because they were expecting fireworks, but rather for the “routine” work of keeping their faith. But God blessed them on this occasion with dazzling fireworks of sorts, tongues of fire in this case.

Amidst all the miraculous and strange events of that Day of Pentecost, one lesson I take away is that sometimes our work begins with the simple and steadfast task of showing up. When Sunday morning rolls around, it’s not helpful for me to say to myself, “Do I think I will enjoy church and sense God’s presence?” Rather, I do well to say, “This morning I will show up. Perhaps God will bless me with his presence there.”

If those first disciples had decided not to show up, they might have missed the fireworks, missing out on the manifestation of God’s presence. Thanks be to God, they showed up.

We Christians have a cycle of feasts and fasts. We have appointed work in the world. We have the need for times of prayer and study. Whether it’s traveling to a place or making time on our calendars, the first job is showing up.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

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