“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind”
Sometimes the things that come upon us suddenly are the things that unsettle us most. Such is the Descent of the Holy Ghost. He came down “suddenly” upon the disciples, but was his coming suddenly a coming unexpectedly? That he came suddenly we read; his coming unexpectedly, we do not read. In fact, Jesus tells us to expect the coming of the Holy Ghost, “commanding them not to depart from Jerusalem but to wait for the promise of the Father,” even the descent of the Holy Ghost.
Yet we may wait expectantly and still be caught unawares, for the realization of what we await may far exceed our expectations and so catch us by surprise. We await for what we do not fully understand. The grace of God is always something more; the mystery of God something more yet again. The promise of the Ascension was the coming down of the Holy Ghost for which Jesus prepares us and bids us wait, yet “suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind.”
Certainly, the effects of this coming down would appear to be most unsettling, the manner of their appearing no less so – “a rushing mighty wind” and “cloven tongues like as of fire” lighting upon the disciples gathered in Jerusalem, filling them with the Holy Spirit and moving them “to speak with other tongues.” To all appearances, an event most unsettling and more than a little disconcerting.
We all know about the winds that unsettle us – the rushing, mighty winds of rumour and slander, of whisperings and murmurings, of allegations and accusations which seek to belittle and destroy. The winds of hatred and revenge are the winds of death. These are the winds that unsettle us. But our Lord would not have us unsettled and troubled. In the midst of the sea-storms of our hearts and our world, even in the midst of the sea-storms of our churches and our communities, he bids the seas be calm and our hearts be still; “it is I,” he says, “have no fear.”