Nightly images of homes torn apart with memories strew across farmlands and neighborhoods tell us that tornado season has begun. These monstrous tails that descend skies that had only a few minutes before had been clear, amaze us with their power and unpredictability.
The second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles begins with the sound of a violent wind that filled the whole house where the disciples had sat. Within a few verses these devout men had been driven from their seats and out into the marketplace, alarmed and amazed by the power and unpredictability of the Holy Spirit.
While Luke described the Holy Spirit as power and fire, John described it as a counselor, one who comes alongside in difficult times, an advocate. This is how I most frequently experience the Holy Spirit; a serendipitous nudge to action with just the right word at just the right time.
But while a tornado rips and tears things apart, scattering homes and memories across miles, the Holy Spirit pushes us together, binding us into one body, the Church. So that together we might accomplish great tasks, together we might build the body of Christ.
I remember the lifeguard teaching my classmates and I to blow bubbles at my first swimming lesson. “Take a breath of air, put your face into the water, blow bubbles, turn your head to the side, take another breath, and repeat.” This is a lesson I mastered as a six year-old.
Similarly the first lesson when sharing the gospel is learning to blow bubbles. Take a deep breath of the Holy Spirit, then while out in the world slowly exhale. Return to the community of faith and take another deep breath of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus’ disciples had a tough week: a passover celebration with a new symbol of bread and wine and foot washing, a rigged trial, and his crucifixion. John reports that they encountered the risen Jesus in a locked room when Jesus tells them: My peace be with you. … Receive the Holy Spirit. While you have your head up out of the troubles of life, inhale the breath of God.
This lesson applies not only to sharing the gospel, but to life itself. During the week we face many challenges and make our share of mistakes. Some of these feel like getting punched and having your breath knocked out. Knowing where to get a refreshing and life restoring breath of the Holy Spirit helps Christians flourish from one Sunday to the next.
Where can you find time to inhale the breath of God, the Holy Spirit, between time in worship?