Growing up in the Texas Panhandle, I am no stranger to severe weather. I remember vividly as a child watching the huge thunderheads and wall clouds rolling across the vast sky. The feeling it evoked in me was one of awe and fear. But I never felt unsafe because I knew my dad was there.
Two weeks ago I took my two boys on a guys only camping trip at Copper Breaks State Park near the Pease River and town of Quanah, Texas. We were excited to get away, fish, hike, and gaze at the stars at this very remote park. As we drove, however, my excitement was tempered as a huge cloud began forming over the horizon in the general direction of the park. As the minutes and hours wore on, so the cloud grew in strength and intensity. And, as I realized this super cell was forming right over our delightful little park, the sense of dread grew in me. We have had friends experience some harrowing weather events lately, so my mortality was not lost on me in the moment.
As we arrived at the park, the rangers had gone from headquarters for the day, so we zipped down into canyons and picked a campsite, set up our tent, and hoped for the best, all the while meteorological fury was brewing above us. By now, the boys began to experience the reality of the storm with the wind whipping and rushing around us.
We were able to work together and set camp and as we continued to watch the storm, we realized it was moving away from us. Instead of a drenching, pelting storm of rain and hail, we simply had a spectacular lightning show. To say I was relieved is an understatement.
As I lay in the tent that night and the cool West Texas air began to pervade our site, I realized how afraid I was, how out of control I felt. This Sunday is Pentecost, that day where we remember the Holy Spirit being poured out upon the disciples in the upper room in a meteorological event not unlike what we experienced. The wind whipping around them in a mighty rush, the disciples were instead enveloped in the love of God, the Holy Spirit, tongues of fire lighting on them, and they declared God’s praises in languages they could not previously speak.
I wonder if the disciples felt afraid, wonder, or awe? I wonder if they were filled with a sense of adventure at this unforeseen yet foretold event?
We’ll explore the disciples’ experience and Jesus’ words to them before his crucifixion that foretold this anointing. And we’ll ask God to fill us afresh and anew with the uncontrollable yet gracious love of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.