[originally written for & posted via Exploring God’s Story pastor’s blog.]
Acts 2 explains the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon the twelve apostles—there was a sound of rushing wind, there were tongues like fire that rested on each person, and they were given ability by the Holy Spirit to speak in all languages present so the diverse gathered crowd understood what was being spoken. Bystanders were amazed, perplexed, and even judgmental of what was happening. Then Peter stood with the apostles and preached to the crowd. Following the preached word, about three thousand people converted, were baptized and added to the community. Those who believed lived together with all things in common, worshipped in temple and in their homes, and the Lord added to their numbers day by day those who were being saved.
God invites us to actively participate today with the Holy Spirit’s continuation of this Day of Pentecost. Of listening to the rush of the Spirit, of feeling the fiery presence of God, of hearing the Word through languages represented by the gathered community.
Through FAM, I’m learning to experience Pentecost daily. Sometimes I’m more in tune to sensing the wind and the fire and the word. Sometimes I’m less so. However, regardless of my sensing and tuning and getting it, the Holy Spirit is making Pentecost happen in southwest Houston. I’m most struck by this Day of Pentecost when I’m with others at Los Arcos and the Reserve at Bankside Apartment Complexes. When we gather in each other’s homes, we worship. We praise God by reveling in each other’s presence. We give thanks to the Lord by sharing food and drink. We honor God by honoring one another–by Congolese refugees welcoming American citizens into their apartments and offering them water and Fanta; by Swahili-speaking women listening to English-speaking women, straining to understand their words, and laughing and shaking their heads when they can’t. By kids from Texas, Burundi, and Mexico spending time with one another and working hard to love each other as friends. When we listen to each other’s favorite worship songs on Youtube, not understanding every word [or sometimes, any word except Mungu (God)] because it’s in our friend’s language.
On Sunday November 17, 2013, Westbury UMC and the FAM community worshiped as a church for all people with more than enough love to go around by gathering at Los Arcos Apartments. By gathering together outside the walls of a church building, we experienced God with one another and celebrated how the kingdom of God is breaking into our neighborhood. We began by gathering in the WUMC Sanctuary at 10:45AM for words of praise, prayer, and instruction; thereafter we shuttled over to Los Arcos. Our time at the apartments followed the structure of FAM’s weekly Wednesday Community Night. We had a time of song, prayer, and testimony; we shared a meal together; we got to know one another through activities including banner and quilt square decorating, face painting, and chalk art. We ended with a time of thanksgiving and benediction at 1PM. It was a beautiful day.
Leading up to this day, the FAM community gathered together week by week in each other’s apartments. We ate doughnuts, drank juice, talked about the hospitality we share with each other, danced to Youtube worship songs, and delegated who would do what on November 17th to welcome Westbury UMC folks to Los Arcos. We shared what we had in common. We broke bread and ate with glad and generous hearts. We praised God while having the goodwill of all the people. And we prepared for the movement of the Spirit. While being caught up in the very present wind, fire, and languages.
The Holy Spirit is doing something pretty remarkable in southwest Houston. We’re still searching for words to articulate it clearly. But we can say this: Mungu ni kubadilisha sisi. God is changing us.