Image: Sundog on the Tundra
As Saint Paul enters Jerusalem his situation seems quite dire. As he expected, there are many factions who are upset with his message and his life is immediately in danger. Though no friends of his, former allies among the council in Jerusalem save his life by arresting him and having him come before the council to share his story.
It is here that we see the true gift of Paul’s wit and the power of the Holy Spirit at work within him. Paul immediately spots the weakness in the council and that is, they are not only afraid of the crowds, but they are also divided among themselves in their own understanding of God.
It is almost humorous as those who would seem to have so much power over Paul are now turned, by his words, into a confused mob as they argue with each other over the reality of the afterlife and the fate of those who have died. Paul lives to see another day and to continue to be a witness to the truth of the God who sets him free.
The scene at Jerusalem might have seemed like chaos and we will see such chaos again as we celebrate Pentecost in a few days time. But it is certainly not the intention of the Holy Spirit to leave people in such a state. The Holy Spirit brings truth and life and in order to do that sometimes things need a bit of shaking up.
When I think of being shaken up the image that comes to my mind is one of those snow globes that you buy when you are on vacation. It sits on your dresser and all the white snow lies neatly on the bottom. Then your little boy or your granddaughter comes along and gives it a good shake. For a while it is chaos; mass confusion in that little globe with snow flying everywhere.
It is like that for us too when we hear something new especially if it is asking big changes of us. We are not sure what to make of it. We can become angered by the emotions we feel. Or we can become paralyzed, not knowing what to do next. The people that were listening to Paul got so upset they wanted to kill him.
In the Gospel, Jesus’ farewell prayer continues and today he prays not only for his disciples, those who have come to believe in him but for all those who will believe in him. The work of Jesus and his disciples, like us, who follow him plant seeds in the hearts of listeners wherever they go and share the Word. We do not know the effect of that Word will have but often there is a chance that it will take root and grow.
If we look at that little snow globe again, it sits for awhile and things start to settle down. Pretty soon all is calm, but the snow never falls back the same way it was. People who have been shaken up have a chance to change. When we get all rearranged, we can come back together in new and exciting ways.
Sharing our faith is not always an easy thing. When we share the hope found in the faith that is in us, we will not always know how we will be received. Sometimes people will welcome us and at other times we may face discontent. But whatever the reception, the Holy Spirit is with us and the word of God will fall on that person. It may wither or it may grow depending on the soil it finds but we need not worry.
Take strength in the words of today’s Psalm, “Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I bless the Lord who gives me counsel…I keep the Lord always before me because he is my right hand. I shall not be moved. In your presence there is fullness of joy.”
May the joy of the Lord be yours as you bear witness to his name.