We have now reached the 50 days after the Easter, which is called Pentecost and if you are unfamiliar with why we as Christians celebrate this important religious holy time let me give you a bit of history. After Jesus was resurrected, during these few weeks he was seen a number of times by his disciples as well as others throughout the community. Finally when it was time to ascend to his Father, he told his disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait for the powerful gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus, their teacher would be leaving them however they would not be left alone and on their own. According to the biblical story, as they waited, a sound of a mighty wind blew through the room and touched all who were present and filled them with the power of God’s Spirit. Their Comforter had arrived ushering in the beginning of a Christian movement that is alive and well today centuries later.
This story got me thinking about another such windy biblical story. I know… my mind wanders from time-to-time when I try to connect the dots within the Bible. There is an obscure story in the Old Testament Book of Ezekiel, chapter 37, that also describes a mighty wind or Spirit of God that brought life where only death and decay were present. In this story, God took the prophet Ezekiel out to a valley filled with dry bones. Yep skeletons! To be honest this chapter has always puzzled and kind of freaked me out. Who were these people and how did they die? What I have come to understand is that this valley is a vision and metaphor about the Israelites and their unfaithfulness to their God. As a people, they had dried up, living without hope, exiled in a foreign country far from their homeland of Israel however God was going to change that with the prophet’s help. Ezekiel was instructed to tell the people that God would restore the dry bones - their hope, and once again give them flesh and muscle or in other words make them whole and return them to Jerusalem. The description in the text is so real as it describes the scene like this, “I did what the LORD said, but before I finished speaking, I heard a rattling noise. The bones were coming together! I saw muscles and skin cover the bones, but they had no life in them” (7-8). Before the prophet’s eyes, the skeletons were made whole yet they had no life within them. Stay with me…now comes the fun part! One of my favorite words in the Bible is the Hebrew word for God’s Spirit or breath, rū-aḥ (ר֖וּחַ). In the creation story God’s Spirit or breath swept over the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:2b). It is this same word that identifies the Spirit who blows with a mighty wind to bring life into these dead bodies. The prophet tells the people: “God said to me, "Mortal man, prophesy to the wind. Tell the wind that the Sovereign LORD commands it to come from every direction, to breathe into these dead bodies, and to bring them back to life" Ezekiel 37:9b. The power of the wind filled the entire valley as well as the bodies that had lain lifeless. They were no longer dead and decaying but full of life. God breathed life back into Israel and restored them to their homeland as God’s chosen people.
This again is the same word used for the wind that blew through the upper room. With the power of the Holy Spirit all of the Christ-followers could also share in the restoration of the resurrected Christ, God offered them a new life ushered in by a mighty wind filling them with rū-aḥ - God’s breath. The Spirit of God permeates within every fiber of our brokenness so that we too can be restored with the power of the first-century disciples. We may not experience a mighty rush of wind or have flames dancing on our heads but the very Spirit of God flows through all of our nooks and crannies and into our pores like the sand from a storm. God’s Spirit blows into the cracks and crevices of our hearts so that we too can feel the presence of God. What was started in the upper room as small flames created a movement that exploded throughout the world as they or we share the Good News! Thanks be to God!