When Being an Easter People Is a Bad Thing

Easter candle liliesHappy Easter, friends! We are an Easter people over here–all 50 days of it. So along with my feasting (and there has been plenty of feasting) all during the Easter season I’ve been trying to use the stories from Acts as much as I can. After all, Acts is our Easter book, right? We read from it every day of Easter. So let’s be all about the Apostles and the amazing work they did, especially during this Easter season!

Until last week when I realized: almost none of the Acts of the Apostles takes place during Easter.1 Because during Easter, the Apostles weren’t out doing anything. For forty days they were being taught by Jesus, learning to forgive sins and feeling their hearts burn within them as he opened the Scriptures to them. And then he ascended. And maybe they felt empowered by the great commission or maybe they felt afraid and alone or maybe they wondered if this wasn’t another 3-day psych-out. But whatever they were feeling, here’s what they did:

They kept to themselves.

“They were continually in the temple praising God,”2 which is great. They “devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.”3 They were in fellowship and in prayer amongst themselves, but they weren’t going out. They weren’t preaching Christ crucified or offering his mercy to the nations.

They had an excuse: they hadn’t yet received the Holy Spirit.

What’s our excuse?

We received the Holy Spirit at baptism and his presence was strengthened in confirmation. We claim his name over our lives every time we cross ourselves. We’ve been called and filled and sent out.

But most of us are still locked in the upper room.

We’ve met the risen Christ and many of us have been transformed. Like Peter our sins have been forgiven, like Mary Magdalene our broken hearts healed, like Thomas our doubts satisfied. We’ve been made new. And now we’re sitting around doing nothing about it.

Oh, we might be in the temple day in and day out. We might be meeting in fellowship and even praying together. But we’re not reaching out to the world.

I wonder what happens when the Spirit comes down as tongues of fire and we refuse even to open the windows, let alone go out into the streets. My hunch is that it doesn’t look pretty and doesn’t end well.

That’s where we’ve been as a Church for far too long. In the West, at least, we’ve been focusing inward, trying (halfheartedly, in most cases) to take care of our own. But when a missionary Church locks itself in an upper room, nobody gets fed.

This year on the Vigil of Pentecost, people all over the world are praying in a special way for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. They’re praying that the power of God will be released in their lives, that they’ll live in the freedom of the Spirit. I think one of the most powerful ways that we’ll experience this is by giving God permission to touch hearts through us. If we decide that we’re going to unlock the door and walk out into the streets, proclaiming Christ and living the book of Acts, we’ll be transformed just as much as those we meet. We’ll move past Easter (still filled with Alleluias) and live in Pentecost as though it were Ordinary.

This Pentecost, the Spirit is coming down. Let’s open our lives to him and go out to set the world ablaze.

Pentecost

  1. That we know of anyway. Certainly not during the first Easter season. []
  2. Luke 24:53 []
  3. Acts 1:14, though they weren’t really his brothers []

About Meg

I'm a Catholic, madly in love with the Lord, His Word, His Bride the Church, and especially His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist. I'm committed to the Church not because I was raised this way but because the Lord has drawn my heart and convicted my reason. After 2 degrees in theology and 5 years in the classroom, I quit my 9-5 to follow Christ more literally. Since May of 2012, I've been a hobo for Christ; I live out of my car and travel the country speaking to youth and adults, giving retreats, blogging, and trying to rock the world for Jesus.
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3 Responses to When Being an Easter People Is a Bad Thing

  1. Meg,

    Thanks for sharing your inspired thoughts here. We had a visiting priest at Saint Alice in Springfield, OR last week and he started saying what you did about the fact that we already have the Holy Spirit, and we know what happens that we are going to celebrate next Sunday! He didn’t say what you did, and I am glad you did, because I needed to hear that I need to start acting like I know that the Holy Spirit is God, and God wants to empower me to do greater things than even Jesus.

  2. AnneMarie says:

    Meg, this is awesome! I love how you point out that we have received the Holy Spirit-so what are we doing about it? Even if we don’t see any particular gifts in ourselves, knowing that the Spirit is strengthening us should help us get off our seats and out to minister with people! Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how the readings at Mass for the past several days have been one huge pep-talk to prepare us for discipleship; they’ve all been about martyrdom, suffering, and faithfulness to God. Thank you for this reminder to really take the Holy Spirit and Pentecost seriously, so that we may really go out there and transform this world 🙂
    AnneMarie recently posted…The Pontipee Brothers & Franciscan UniversityMy Profile

  3. Viktoria says:

    Dear Meg,

    Thank you for your post! This issue – of going out and setting the world ablaze – has been on my heart for such a long time. I feel like I am the one trapped in the upper room and unable to go out and “preach”. I have realised that will power alone doesn’t help in evangelisation. Could you maybe share tips how you have “stepped across the line” and started going out, bringing the good news to others? What has helped you to break out of restricting habits?
    Thanks in advance!
    Viktoria recently posted…When Being an Easter People Is a Bad ThingMy Profile

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