What does a servant do when the Master is absent? A faithful servant follows the Masters instructions, and waits for his return. And so they waited, and they prayed. The sense of expectation was heavy in the air. It wasn’t at all like the Master’s last absence. That time, brief though it was, had been the nadir of their lives. He died, and it was as if they tasted his death in their own beings – the death of hope, the death of meaning, the death of laughter, the death of love. In their loss of him they had tasted, though they hardly had words to name it, the death of their God.
But the darkness was over and the morning had come, the fairest since that time when the morning stars had sung together. Death itself had been overcome, and though they understood that they would never walk with him and talk with him in the same old way again, they also knew that they would be with him forever. He had only gone on ahead. And he had not left them as orphans, he was sending them Another, the indwelling Spirit, and he would be with them soon. They waited now in joy, not terrified grief.
And so the servants waited. They were not sure what to expect. They had the old stories, to be sure, of what the Spirit had done in the past, but they knew that this was supposed to be different, that it would be something that had never happened before in the history of the world. And so they wondered. They waited, they wondered and they prayed.
And the Spirit came to them on the Day of Pentecost, with a sound like a mighty rushing wind coming down to them from heaven, and it seemed that the whole house was filled with it. And, as they watched each other, amazed, it seemed that there was fire too, which separated into individual tongues of flame, resting on each person. Their hearts were full, their courage was set aflame with love that cast out fear, and their tongues were loosed into new languages, as if Babel had never happened. For when Babel was built among men they had sought to raise themselves up, but now God had come down, and fierce was the joy of that hour. Once, on Sinai, there had been flame and rumblings and smoke, and a thick darkness where God was, and Israel, constituted as a nation in that hour, had been shaken in terror. Now, as the church came into being, the servants were filled with wonder.
And the servants were released to serve in a whole new way. A short few weeks before, they had cowered in immobilising fear, now they came forth, borne by the power of God to speak words of world-shattering truth. Their waiting was over.