by Father Jamin Scott David
Pentecost, you know, is one of those feasts that we really can’t put our fingers on. Do we call Him the Holy Spirit or the Holy Ghost? Does he come in the form of tongues of fire or a big fat dove? Perhaps there is one characteristic of this feast that distinguishes it from many others – Pentecost is a time to dream. As we prepare to celebrate the Eucharist on this feast of the Holy Spirit, perhaps that should be our prayer today – that God enliven our hearts to dream what may seem impossible.
Here’s the curious thing about today’s feast – even though we constantly profess God’s ability to create and redeem, most congregations are hesitant to dream, and I think it’s for three reasons.
First, I wonder if somewhere along the way, we were taught that dreaming is for kids. Dreaming isn’t something responsible adults should do. Take today’s first reading from
the Acts of the Apostles for example. Who would have ever believed that people from every corner of the world would be able to gather together, not break into a huge fight, but instead could speak their own native language and do so with all their brothers and sisters able to understand them? Perhaps that’s the Good News of the first reading.
We need to think like a child and relearn how to question our assumptions. Who says our congregation can’t grow? Why do we assume our neighbor will never come to Church with us? It’s these “truths” that often need to be called into question so that we might be able to dream.
Second, perhaps we’re worried that dreaming can be divisive. What if our dreams are different? How do you figure out which dream is better? St. Paul reminds us in the second reading that there are always differences in the Christian body, but there is always something to be celebrated in this diversity. There are different spiritual gifts all mediated by the same Spirit. And sure, there might be some argumentation along the way, but we’ll be fine if we remember we’re all members of one body.
Finally, I wonder if we worry that if we dream, we might be disappointed. We take the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. Dreaming often feels like getting your hopes up to only have them come crashing down. But look at today’s Gospel. Jesus refuses to leave his disciples mired in fear. He crashes down the locked doors behind which they’re hiding and he breathes his Spirit upon them. And he wants to do the same for us– knock down the doors that keep us from dreaming the impossible dream.
I think what Pentecost is inviting us all to do is simply to dream a little bit. One of the things that constantly tires me like no tomorrow is to have someone constantly tell me “that’s the way it is” or “that’s how we’ve always done it.” Dream past that! God’s Spirit will pour generously into us, even if we’re locked behind that obstacle of accepting the status quo. Changing our Church can happen too if we simply give ourselves permission to dream!