A reflection on Acts 2:1-21 by Peter Lockhart
When And Then
For each when there is a then...
The word 'when' seems so innocent and innocuous but it is the precursor to marvellous, magical, mischievous, malign, morose and mournful events.
In the passage:
When they heard the sound, they came on the run...
What 'when' is in my life and in yours?
When will I be more attentive to God?
When will I experience God inside the room not outside?
When will I love more deeply?
When will I die?
When will I rise again?
When will I arrive?
When will I be more disciplined with my time?
When will I give more of myself to my wife and children?
When will I respond to those who suffer in a personal and committed way?
But 'when' is not just about me and my 'when' but about all people - those inside the room, those who ran to the room, and even those who do not run and see - the ambivalent and absent ones.
When will others know God as a God of love, peace and mercy?
When will God's presence in other religions be revealed and understood?
When will the Nigerian girls go home?
When will asylum seekers be released?
When will they be welcomed?
When will suffering end for those who are ill?
When will the pain stop for those who mourn?
When will the song of the birds and wonder of creation remind us of God's goodness?
When will communities learn to live openly as well as exclusively in their uniqueness with translucent, transparent, transforming walls which build other communities as well as value their diversity?
When will the hungry be fed?
When will the leaders of nations have greater wisdom?
Yet within the passage for each when there is a then...
'Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through the ranks...'
'Then... they were thunderstruck...'
The 'then' does not always 'solve' the 'when' but it gives us hope that 'then' something will be different, it encourages us that something else is coming. Or, maybe more accurately that someone else is coming.
God will act! Even though, as Jesus says, no one knows the time, the time is still coming. This is our reassurance and hope that 'when' is not ignored and there will be a 'then', a time when the kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven.