It is a very soggy Pentecost, and so far this morning I have made about 40 phone calls to ensure people know we are now going to hold our service in the Methodist Church. I think God has been very generous - it was dry yesterday when it really mattered and pouring with rain today when it doesn't. Those who prayed for sun are fairly happy, those who feel we shouldn't are not feeling too guilty! But it got me thinking about my mental images of Pentecost in which it was definitely not raining and the temperature in the morning was warm enough for folk to be out and about listening to spirit-crazed apostles.
The more I think about it, the more I realise that my mental images of Bible times are very Hollywoodised. Apart from some theatrical darkness on Good Friday and a brief storm on Genessaret (but somehow without the apostles getting cold, wet or miserable) the sun always shines. It has to, Jesus likes picnics, gathers crowds when he goes through towns and people come to find him to get healed - I mean, no one objected to the rain coming in after the roof got ripped off, did they?! Perhaps the days when it poured with rain and Jesus and his mates trudged along muddy roads getting cold and meeting nobody much just weren't worth recording. Undoubtedly my sunshine images owe a lot to Sunday School material or Ladybird books. (Oh, in good Pauline tradition, there were also the storms that led to his shipwreck, I can't remember if there was any other bad weather...!)
I wonder, in part, if this almost Disneyised version of the Bible is why people 'grow out' of faith because their own reality is that, literally or metaphorically, the sun doesn't always shine.
I wonder what it might mean if I image that the apostles were gathered in the room that Pentecost morning with rain lashing the streets, with the temperature almost wintry and their spirits as gloomy as the grey clouds that filled the sky? I wonder what it might mean if they rushed out into the street despite the rain because they were now supercharged with enthusiam (theological and otherwise)? I wonder what it might mean if we spoke more of the 'God of the wind and rain' rather than 'gentle Jesus meek and mild' ? I wonder if God might be speaking to me today not in hurricanes and flames but in a quiet whisper that cannot be damped by a deluge?
We will have fun this afternoon - that's an order! We will enjoy being together out of the wet and in the warm. But if out of this we could emerge with a renewed ability to tell the Good News in a language that people understand, wow, that trully would be Pentecostal!
(Oh yes, despite repeated requests yesterday, we will NOT be singing 'Send the Fire' (unless praying for it to come via Kez for special purposes; in joke, sorry) because we don't "need another Pentecost," we just need to tune in to the first one.)
[Picture from www.soundofamerica.org]