My Ascension/Pentecost journey of the last two weeks has been an insightful one:
In his closing comments to his Disciples at the Ascension, Jesus promises them “all power” from above. At our recent Clergy Day in Lyttleton we were challenged to be “power hungry”, and it strikes me the reason the disciples staggered drunkenly around Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost is that they were “drunk with power”. These are concepts of power we normally see as negative due to the inherent misuse, even abuse, of power by politicians and others in positions of authority in government and civil society. However, the dictionary describes “power” as “the ability to act”, which from a Christian perspective is a God-given gift. As a child of God I need to hunger for a greater ability to act.
The Hebrew word for “breath”, “wind” and “spirit” is a single word: Ruach. In Genesis 2 God forms the primeval Adam who remains but a clay form until the “breath of God” gives Adam life, symbolic of humanity’s gift of eternal life. The eternal nature of life is wasted and then lost in the disobedience of “the Fall”, but restored at Pentecost as the Spirit, or “breath of God”, overcomes the disciples, and their drunkenness is symbolic of their abundant experience of life and relationship with God in that moment, and the restoration of eternal life as a gift to humanity.
The Pentecostal movement and subsequent Charismatic response in the Anglican Church with its emphasis on the gift itself, has taken the focus away from the important symbolic content of the event, the restoration of what was symbolically lost at Babel: the gift of communication with all people - that God may be made known to the Nations!
4 June 2006