I wonder if it was uncomfortable being with the disciples for the ten days between Jesus’ Ascension and the Day of Pentecost? Waiting is not my favourite activity, and I imagine other people also find it difficult.
Of course, when the waiting is over, it doesn’t always make everything easy. Luke tells us of the need to wait by showing the power of the Holy Spirit in the adventures of the early Christians in the book of Acts. They needed the help. Clearly, this is not their own planning or ability displayed, but something more.
Acts 16:16-34, read this Sunday, tells of Paul’s ability to deal with spirit possession. (This is not a denial of psychiatry – most “possession” in the western world is psychiatric illness, but evil spiritual power is also real, and telling the difference needs some care and training). He gets no thanks, but the girl is freed – and so is a jailer and his family! Remarkable events, catalysed by the different lives of the Christians, and their readiness to take the opportunities that occur.
Perhaps this is more relevant to today’s Church than we might like to think. What are we waiting for? Perhaps again the coming of the Holy Spirit to transform lives – quietly or dramatically, but in a real way. That will help us understand how we are meant to serve our communities, be a blessing to individuals, and provoke questions from those who want to share the benefit.
I find it reassuring that Paul, like the other early Christians, is not pictured as an ideal or perfect person, simply as one through whom the Holy Spirit was able to do great things. The challenge is that there is no reason why that shouldn’t happen to me – or to you.