Shavuot Surprise

Jun 3, 2023 | Writer's Blog | 0 comments

(The sequel to “Silent Saturday”1)

It’s Shavuot! …our Feast of Weeks! …seven days of feasting to celebrate our wheat harvest! We’re also remembering the day YHWH gave Moses our Torah on Mount Sinai. …a day to remember the covenant we Jews have with our God.

But this year there are more than 100 of us who aren’t celebrating. Instead of harvesting and feasting, we’re huddled in this upper room—and it’s getting awfully hot and smelly, if you ask me! We’ve been in and out of this chamber for the last seven weeks, praying, sharing meals, and trying to grasp the unimaginable events that have been taking place. My sister Mary is right over there, sitting with my brother Lazarus. See him with that big bunch of people crowding around him? Lazarus is a big favorite ever since Jesus raised him from the dead.

It’s hard to believe that just seven weeks ago we were cowering in this same room, broken and stunned by Jesus’ death—and wondering when it would be our turn. We were expecting to be arrested at any moment: we’re His followers, after all, and we figured we’d be following Him in His crucifixion, too.

So when Jesus walked in—right through that locked door, mind you!—I almost fell over, I was so shocked! There was a corporate gasp of astonishment, then we all backed away toward the wall, afraid of this apparition. But our rabbi spoke words of kindness and peace that settled our hearts. After that, you could hardly hear yourself think because of the hubbub as we all crowded around Him.

Jesus is alive! He was always doing such baffling things, but this one is beyond belief! I know it sounds insane, but I’m telling you: He was right here, standing among us. We touched Him. We talked to Him. He spoke to us from the Scriptures, trying to help us grasp these crazy events. He even ate some of the fish I’d cooked for dinner!

There’d been a few people throughout that day who’d said they’d seen him, but I have to be honest: I struggled to believe them. I’d been holding onto a tiny glimmer of hope that Jesus’ death wasn’t the end of the story, but I never could have imagined He’d show up right here in the middle of this room, alive and well! So I’m not at all surprised that the ones who weren’t in the room that evening had trouble believing it until they saw Jesus with their own eyes, heard Him speak, shared a meal with Him, or touched the scars in His hand and side. We were all pretty skeptical at first, but over the last six or seven weeks Jesus has been seen by hundreds of His followers, so now we all know it’s true: Jesus has conquered death and the grave! And since His first appearance, we’ve kept gathering here, sharing our Jesus-sightings and encouraging one another. If He’s going to show up again, we don’t want to miss it! And we’re hungry to hear each of these accounts—proof of the unbelievable but undeniable fact that Jesus is indeed alive.

But for this past week or so we’ve been especially hesitant to leave because Jesus’ eleven remaining disciples had an especially crazy experience with Him. He told them we shouldn’t leave Jerusalem. He wants us to wait for the fulfillment of YHWH’s promise that we would be baptized in the Holy Spirit—whatever that means! He told them that we’ll receive some kind of power when Ruach comes upon us that will help us tell others about Him. They were trying to figure out what He could be talking about when, next thing they knew, He was lifted right out of their sight and into a cloud! Then suddenly there were these two men wearing white garments standing there, asking them why they were looking up into the sky. They told the Eleven that Jesus would return the same way they saw Him leave. I know that sounds outrageous, but all eleven of them came back from Olivet and told us the very same story!

So here we are, waiting, praying—and of course eating. So I’m serving meals for this crowd again, just like I did when Jesus was alive! Jesus’ mother is right over there, stirring that pot of lentil stew. Some of the other women are right next to her, preparing the bread. Jesus’ brothers are here, and the Eleven of course—along with the new guy, Matthias.

We’re all waiting.

And we’re all wondering.

What’s that?!?! The wind is roaring through the house so loudly I can hardly stand it! And it’s making the walls shake so hard! Are they going to fall down around us? And look over there! There’s a gleaming tongue of fire on John’s head! …and on Mary’s over here! Now it’s on Peter, too! …and Thomas! Oh, it’s everywhere! …on all of our heads! Is there one on my head too?

And what are they all saying?! It sounds like everybody is speaking in a different language! What’s going on?!

This must be it! This must be the baptism that Jesus told the Eleven to wait for! It’s Ruach, YHWH’s Holy Spirit, filling and empowering us! And what a perfect time for us to be speaking all these strange languages: there are pilgrims from all over who have gathered here in Jerusalem for our Shavuot feast. We can tell them about Jesus and the mighty works of God He performed! Just like He said: we’ve been filled with His power so we can be His witnesses! Come on! Let’s go!

~ Kathryn Kircher, writer
~ Deana Harvey, visual artist

1 You can read “Silent Saturday” at: https://kathrynmkircher.com/2023/04/08/silent-saturday/

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