First century BCE Greek inscription from Jerusalem's Temple Mount forbidding the entry of Gentiles to the Temple precinct, reading “..no foreigner shall enter…” (© The Israel Museum, Jerusalem)

First century BCE Greek inscription from Jerusalem's Temple Mount forbidding the entry of Gentiles to the Temple precinct, reading “..no foreigner shall enter…” (© The Israel Museum, Jerusalem)

By Andrea Lingle

“Friends...one of the men who have accompanied us throughout the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.” Acts 1:16a, 22

Once there was a group of people. These people lived long ago, and, therefore, far away, but they were not so different from you and me. They loved, hoped, ate, and bickered. They had been following a great leader, but he had left them. They had been instructed to wait, and, like so many who wait, they did so fretfully.

It came to their attention that their number was unexpectedly small. An unbalanced number. A prime number. An uncomfortable number. So, they determined that while they waited they would solve the awkwardness of their number.

So they discussed how this should be done.

Clearly, it had to be one who was qualified. One who was known, trusted, male; one who filled the specifications of discipleship. So they determined the two on whom chance could fall.

The dice were thrown. The lots were cast. And they were once again twelve. But, perhaps, unbeknownst to them, could they have filled an a place that was not empty? 

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place...All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Acts 2:1–4

Spirit, the rushing invisibility—that which caresses chaos—had not looked upon the eleven and seen inadequacy. In fact, Spirit had not seen eleven at all. Spirit had sensed them all and fell on them all: those covered with the dust from their rabbi's feet and those who had joined on the way to the tomb. For, like rain, Spirit does not fall on those who meet the requirements. Spirit does not notice whose answers are catalogued most elegantly. Spirit does not require anything, for Spirit is there, dripping from the chin of the baptized, crusted under the nails of the sower, and captured in the pores of the leaf. Spirit comes like a song, at once new and, somehow, known all along.

“In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
  and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
  and your old men shall dream dreams.
Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
  in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
    and they shall prophesy...
Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Acts 2:17–21


And with Spirit these disciples began to speak in news ways. The us-ness faded into the beginnings of that which inhabits the squirrel-ear sized leaves of the oak tree. A promise of life and shelter and a deep, deep hope.

With Spirit, those who had never been counted among the twelve, heard a story of grace captured in their image. In the corner of the temple courtyard, a brown bird with bluish shoulders settled on a stone and began to call. It began as a burble deep in its chest. The disqualified and qualified alike turned to see, and it began to sing in earnest—the burble became a chortle, and the chortle became a guffaw. Soon it was trilling out the deep joy of the universe.

What secret did this Laughing Dove know? It knew that this stone, inscribed with a warning about where and what was holy, was made of star dust and Spirit, and it, too, would cry out:

"Blessed is the king
   who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
   and glory in the highest heaven!" Luke 19:23

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