(From today until Pentecost—Sunday excepted—the Lectionary offers a course reading in Matthew 7-9.)
With the Numbers reading we pivot towards the arrival of God’s Breath/Spirit/Wind at Pentecost, now just over a week away.
In a traditional Christian reading of Genesis 1 we first meet God’s Spirit brooding over a dark and chaotic world. Seven days later, all “very good.” (This might set us up for unrealistic expectations unless we recall that human decisions were not involved.) We might wonder: what else does this Spirit do? For what else does the Spirit come? Our readings suggest the start of a sketch of an answer; see what you think.
In Numbers, Moses is faced with a restive, suspicious, dangerous crowd. God’s Spirit will fall on the seventy elders to help him get the people to a better place.
In Ephesians the author celebrates God’s project of uniting Jew and Gentile, groups that at that time and place had little love lost between them. For that project to have any chance of success: God’s Breath.
In Matthew… Remember that Jesus healed in many ways, from using spit to make mud, to long-distance. If ever there was a time for long-distance healing, keeping up boundaries (social distancing!) it was in dealing with this demanding leper (recall Leviticus). And Jesus “stretched out his hand and touched him.” How can we be empowered to follow Jesus’ example, blowing through the cultural, political, social barriers that divide us? Again, God’s Wind.
From the dark, chaotic world at the beginning of our story, through Ezekiel’s valley filled with very dry bones and the Day of Pentecost, to our day, not lacking in darkness and chaos: Come, Holy Spirit; Veni Sancte Spiritus!
The verses to the linked song:
- Come, Holy Spirit, from heaven shine forth with your glorious light.
- Come, Father of the poor, come, generous Spirit, come, light of our hearts.
- Come from the four winds, O Spirit, come breath of God, disperse the shadows over us, renew and strengthen your people.
- Most kindly warming light! Enter the inmost depths of our hearts, for we are faithful to you. Without your presence, we have nothing worthy, nothing pure.
- You are our only comforter, peace of the soul. In the heat you shade us; in our labor you refresh us, and in trouble, you are our strength.
- On all who put their trust in you, and receive you in faith, shower all your gifts. Grant that they may grow in you and persevere to the end, give them lasting joy.