In person worship only with open doors

The familiar Bible story about the Day of Pentecost begins in Acts, chapter 2 with: “1When the day of Pentecost had come, [the apostles] were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

In the story, it is now 50 days after Passover and 50 days after we read about the disciples being concealed behind locked doors “for fear of the Jews”. What has changed is the doors are no longer locked but open, and there is no fear but boldness, because the Spirit of God has been placed on each believers head. It appears as if the apostles do not fear danger of reopening. Whatever put fear in their minds was replaced by the news they were excited to share. The apostles are ready to share their story with the world. And the story is heard in other languages as many as were the nations represented.

We have been behind closed doors for about two months and are looking forward to resuming life via open doors and open churches. A little of our pandemic fear is lessening because we want to be out: eating out, worshipping in our familiar places, going to the library and movie theater, etc. It is amazing how our fears are different from our phobias of the past. Phobias limit our ability to do certain things. This pandemic fear has kept us away, but now we are somewhat reckless to be about. Some of us have not taken this all that seriously and have gone about business as usual, trusting medical personnel to protect us from ourselves. Others of us have masked up and done the necessary things but avoided large crowds.  Others are cautiously waiting for the all clear for the old normalcy. My denominational leaders keep reminding us that normal will not be the same, and we will have to make adaptive changes for sometime. Those changes may become the new normal.

This Sunday’s gospel projects that the day of Pentecost meant that nothing will be normal again. The Spirit of God will sweep upon all mankind and the message of Jesus will become world-wide. The doors of worship will open to the world in new ways. Some will have in-person worship, drive-in church, online worship, and some of us, because of age and physical conditions will choose to worship at home. The people of God prepared for fear will walk boldly to share God in new ways. The new things begun will change the world. We are not told what that world might bring, but are assured God will not leave us alone.