I live in a town of 2,000 in southeastern South Dakota that is surrounded by farmland. It’s the first week in March as I write this. The surrounding fields are quiet and still, with snow, ice and water covering most of them. Things are happening on farms. Equipment is being readied and repaired, seeds are being purchased, plans are being made—yet it’s still calm around here.
There is rest and hopefully expectation for what comes soon, because as you read this something will happen. The planting season will start, and those fields will have erupted in activity. Tractors, plows, planters and trucks will be moving every hour of the day and into the night. They will go from still to bustling with activity as the seeds of life are planted.
Our Pentecost text has a similar bursting of activity. The disciples have been dormant and still at times between Easter and Pentecost. Jesus has appeared to them often to teach, but for the most part the time has been spent waiting, resting, being quiet and pondering what this resurrection moment means.
Then something happens. As they sit in that upper room, the Spirit erupts into their lives with the sound of a rushing wind and tongues of flame. The disciples, filled with the Spirit, rush out of that room in a flurry of activity, preaching, teaching, planting the seeds of faith.
We come to the places of rest…. Then we are sent.
This cycle, still and quiet followed by activity, is in many ways the same for the life of faith. We need stillness and quiet, we need the sabbath rest God gives us. Then we’re ready for our Spirit-sent mission. We need to be out in the world, doing God’s work through our hands, doing the mission of God, but we also need rest and stillness. We come to the places of rest—church sanctuaries, family rooms or coffee shops where we gather to read the Bible together, to laugh and cry with each other, to be fed the body and blood of our savior. Then we are sent.
And as we are sent, we, like the disciples, are filled with the Spirit. We are the planters who carry the Spirit into the lives of others. Through us the Spirit goes out into a world that needs to know it is loved, a world where we and so many others are hurting, feeling dormant, empty, cut off from the church and each other.
So many are like farmland gone cold through winter and covered by snow and ice, who feel the cold of hate and exclusion. We go to offer a seed that says, “Here is Christ, who died and who is raised for you.” We go to say, “Here is a tongue of flame that offers warmth.” Here is the Spirit saying, “Who you are is enough, who you are is right, who you are is who God needs.”