A story for Pentecost
The full version of this narrative sermon can be read in my book, Stale Bread. It is illustrated here with an original graphic by the very talented Jason Ramasami.
Jason is a cartoonist, illustrator, RE teacher, and his book ‘Jesus Comic’ will be released in the UK and USA in November. It already exists as an iphone app – which you can see here.
The wind had been a long time coming…a long time coming. Before there was man or beast, before time itself had been chopped into hours and minutes – it played across the soupy surface of the planet as it slurped and bubbled. At God’s command it had warmed the lifeless bodies of doll Adam and doll Eve, and they had walked and skipped in the garden of Eden.
Later, when the gates of the garden had slammed shut it had found its way out into the world. It had blown sand in the face of God’s enemies, whipped up the waves and washed them away. It had breathed on the sparks of God’s mercy and made a fire from floor to ceiling to light them on their way. Later still it had blown dust from the scrolls of God’s law in a temple storeroom. It had tugged at the robes of a prophet here…ruffled his beard there. Once it had bucked and dived through the valley of bones – in and out of the carcasses, bringing life wherever it went. And the glory of God had ridden on its back into the temple, like a conquering hero on his mount.
On the darkest day it had held back, along with the Sun and the angels as God’s terrible mercy was etched on the tree. Now, down there, in amongst the thousands milling to and fro, there were some waiting for it to return. “Wait inJerusalem” the Lord had said – and in obedient puzzlement – that’s what they had done. Through tears…disappointment…even terror, they had waited, like faithful sentinels told not to leave their post. And now, at last…it came.
In through every window and funnelled down every alley it came. It rattled and whistled and ruffled wherever it went. A curtain was torn from its mounting here. A jar toppled from its table in the street there – shattering in a hundred un-noticed pieces. A barking dog flattened its ears and whined at this strange phenomenon. A child stuck out his pudgy arm to feel it, only to be snatched back by his protective mother. The robes of the priests flapped round the grey heads of their wearers and wrapped them up like clowns in a show. Many cowered, shielding eyes and faces from the dust. Jerusalem had never been like this before.
Only a few turned their faces up and smiled. Their time had come, their master’s promise fulfilled. What they could see, as others looked away, was tongues of fire, borne on the wind. They bucked and wriggled, danced and twisted like living things. And to each faithful watcher – a flame came. As they stood closer together now, their faces took on the glow of each other’s flame. The pallor of grief and worry was gone, a golden warmth in its place. What had looked like a wake a few minutes before now seemed like a birthday party. Theirs were the faces of excited children, gathered round the candles on the cake for the big moment, ready to sing with glad and simple hearts. Theirs were the faces of a church made new. Outside the room the glow of the flames was like a campfire to the onlookers -a beacon for the lost, a warning for the predator. Borne on the wind, warmed by the flame, the church was on the move.