It’s Pentecost, the holy day of the Church year most likely to inspire priests to tie red balloons to the end of pews in churches around the world. Our own Father Salmon did that once, I think it was back in the late 1980’s, in Riverton. He did it once because the kids managed to unmoor several balloons, which then made their home forty feet up on the church ceiling before slowly losing their helium and floating down. Fr. Haynes tells the story of a priest with a very shiny bald head, and the time during that priest’s sermon an old balloon slowly dropped behind him until it was level with his head, two shiny orbs competing for the people’s attention. Then there’s another story I heard about a preacher describing the sound the Holy Spirit made during that first Pentecost, when a kid slowly let the air out of Pentecostal balloon; that was not the mighty wind he was going for. For these and for many other reasons, this is a balloon-free zone.
Anyway, as much as we make of the sound of the Holy Spirit coming down from heaven on Pentecost, it always occurred to me that the sound was just a by-product of movement. The Holy Spirit was moving that day, moving swiftly and powerfully. Jesus had moved up ten days earlier, and now the Holy Spirit moved down. And if Jesus was no longer there to move things along, God wasn’t going to just leave it up to mere mortals to get the mission of salvation on the move.
Jesus was moving. “Jesus moved the Holy Spirit to come down from heaven, in order to move his disciples. His resurrection had already brought them out of doubt, fear, abandonment, denial, guilt, and despair, and into the greatest joy. But amazed rejoicing is not the mission Jesus set out for his church; it’s merely the spark that ignites the flame.
“Jesus moved the disciples to become apostles. In English, he moved the followers to become the sent. On Pentecost, the followers of Jesus are sent out into the world to share the grace and love he gave us. And as our sacred story teaches us time and again, God doesn’t set us up in order to let us down. God doesn’t bring us so far just to abandon us. God gives us what we need; God’s grace provides for us, and it is sufficient. The First Mover cannot be stopped.
Whether we know it or not, God empowers us to do great things, to reach beyond ourselves and the boundaries the world sets up. Luke’s story of Pentecost shows this through the transcendence of national, ethnic, and language boundaries, the wind of the Spirit toppling them like a house of cards. We experience the same Spirit in a multitude of ways. Usually more subtle ways, but no less powerful. Conversations that seem mundane to us can elevate others from despair to hope.”
All the time, I hear about our parishioners changing lives and giving hope, whether through HomeFront or a prayer shawl or at the laundry, or simply through small acts of charity, visiting the sick, even casual phone calls. Our parish choir obvious is a channel of the Holy Spirit. Vasu heeding a call to ordination can only come from Holy Spirit. Here we care for the living and the dead in ways that cannot be just self-motivated, it’s too active, too loving. God must be moving us.
My friend Fr. Rob Droste is fond of say that we need to look for where Jesus is working and then join Him in that work. He reminds every congregation he visits that Jesus never stops moving; Jesus is always working on someone’s heart, whether they know it or not. If we are attentive, if we’re open to the possibility of seeing where Jesus is working, the Holy Spirit will surely push us in the right direction, a steady wind at our back, sending us, moving us, just like those first apostles, on Jesus’ mission of salvation.
If Pentecost is the feast of the Holy Spirit, then it’s also a celebration (or warning) of God breaking every barrier, erasing every boundary, and giving those who put their trust in Him a spirit of victory in all things. That’s certainly a balloon-worthy event, but what would happen if we lived like all of that was true all the time?
 Fr. Bret Hays