Pentecost will find me on the sideline of a soccer field yelling encouragement as one of my sons takes part in his first soccer tournament outside of regular weekly games. Like any sporting event it’ll be marked by passion, atmosphere, noise, sweat, confusion, pain and emotion. And that’s just for the spectators. Maybe not to the same level as an All Black test or the F.A. Cup final but you get the picture. Go Ranui!
So too Pentecost. Bob’s suggestions for the grid blog included using different languages, capturing the invitation of the Spirit to all as the church began to emerge and be formed. Sport too is a language. You may not be able to speak the language of a far off place, but produce a ball (particularly a soccer ball) and words become irrelevant. A Danish friend of ours was talking recently of his time in Peru. His Spanish wasn’t too hot but that didn’t matter when he kicked a ball around with the kids in his neighbourhood. By playing the game he became one of them – part of the community.
So I have this image of Pentecost being like a cup final. The teams are playing, the crowd’s immersed in the experience and suddenly a woman runs out onto the pitch. Not only that but she intercepts the ball and starts playing – drawing some of the players and the crowd into her game. And then the game spills out into the street (like in the “Keep the Ball Alive” ad) and before you know it there are all sorts of people kicking and passing balls (even some picking it up and running with it!). The same basic game but with local variations. Anyone can play – no need to learn the language – just “have a go.”
Now of course over time people try to write rule books, dictate styles of play, develop intense rivalries and generally stifle the spirit of the game. But in all sorts of places you’ll find the Spirit and a ball, playing “the beautiful game”, and everyone’s invited to play.