Amazed and Perplexed

Acts 2:1-4. When the day of Pentecost came. Pastel & pen. 26 May 2012.

Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

Acts 2: 12

Recent reviews from my church are pouring in. Here’s one:

  • “The service was gripping from start to finish. I didn’t know what would happen next!”

And another:

  • “I had no idea worshipping God could be so engaging and mysterious. I’m coming back next week to see what happens!”

One more:

  • “I didn’t know what to expect, but what a ride! I’m equal parts amazed and perplexed. Now I want to know what it all means.”

Okay, those reviews are all entirely false. I made them up. Except the last one. The last one was an Acts 2 review of the original Day of Pentecost. Kind of a summary of the response of all the various Jews there, watching the disciples speaking a multitude of languages, and basically running around like they were on fire.

Wouldn’t you love to get this kind of review in your church? I would give just about anything to have people leaving worship both “amazed and perplexed”. Kind of a worship-on-the-edge-of-your-seat response. A service that grips you and doesn’t let go.

If we could manage worship like that, people would be lined up to join in.

Instead? Well, we try. Decent music, a decent sermon. Lord’s prayer. Communion, occasionally. It can be a well-worn rut we travel on Sunday mornings. Even Pentecost Sunday, a celebration the Holy Spirit and the birthday of the church, can seem a little la-dee-dah.

How do we recreate the contageous excitement of Pentecost without hiring a full time worship director to stage a spectacle for each Sunday? Well, choirs practice, and pastors study. There are online resources and multi-media options, we can do our best. It’s good to offer our utmost!

But Pentecost wouldn’t have been Pentecost without the Holy Spirit. It was the Holy Spirit that electrified those disciples. It was the Holy Spirit that inspired them to communicate to so many different people. We can do our part, but worship must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to amaze and perplex those in worship.

The good news is that the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, and never left. God is with us as we worship together. The Spirit animates the Body of Christ, and not just in worship. In all we do, we are guided by the amazing, sometimes perplexing power of the Holy Spirit.

The challenge to us, then, is to receive it, individually and collectively. At any moment, on any day, you and I can choose to acknowledge what is always available: Mysterious power. Life-changing power. Holy power that can connect us and inspire us.

The Holy Spirit is not an adrenalin rush, nor is it a magic show. The Holy Spirit is not a once a year remembrance, nor is it a well-decorated chancel. The Holy Spirit is an amazing grace offering a perplexing power. When we make room to experience God in both of these ways, worship truly fires us up.

Worship does not require the trappings of a Broadway production. It requires the worshippers to be invested in the ever-present mystery of God’s presence.

Church this Sunday may or may not achieve a four-star review, but if you’re up to the challenge of the Holy Spirit,

it might just blow you away.

Have a great week,