This image of the cathedral hovering above the disciples as they are enflamed by the Holy Spirit is an image of hope and longing. The faces on these people seem not to be faces of the confident, nor faces of the determined. They are not the faces of people who know what to do next, nor are they faces of people spending a budget in executive function. They are not people who have gathered at the boardroom table like ecclesial corporate executives, ready to manage the Kingdom into being, nor are they people whose assurance of things to come has arrived as in a memo from God.
What I see in their faces is longing. They want something different. And I think that is how I define hope. Hope is the longing for, and assurance that, what seems to be around us is not the end of the story. These same men in this image of the Pentecost disciples will be the ones who will be tortured and killed; lighting a fire of rebellion which will catch the imaginations of billions turning over the thrones of the princes of church and state.
Hope is the assurance that God is not impotent. Hope is the assurance that God is omnipotent. But with that assurance comes a contract which can be hard to sign. With this hope comes the contract that if God is indeed omnipotent, then God is aware and allowing of the horrors we see on the nightly news and sometimes experience in our churches, towns and homes. So we abide. That is what we do. We wait and we hope and we remember that the Holy Spirit has been given to us, untamed, mischievous, playful, knowing, creative, compassionate, encouraging, challenging. Fiery.
The work we have to do in Pentecost is not the work of powerfully managing the Kingdom of God. The work we have to do in Pentecost is this longing we see in the faces of these disciples as the image of our Cathedral of Saint John’s in the Wilderness hovers above them on a celestial cloud. Controlling is an act of domination. Longing is an act of humility. And it is best done in a group. And it is best administered by the Holy Spirit. So we wait. We long. We pray. We listen. We heal from horrors and harbor hope.
And we believe, even when it seems against all odds, that God is omniscient and is making all things new.