Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Birth of Cool

Perhaps one of the most quintessential jazz recordings was by Miles Davies called, “the Birth of Cool.” Miles Davies didn’t invent jazz music, nor did he invent cool, yet the record is considered by jazz musicians and fans as a significant redefinition of both jazz and coolness.

The same can be said of the experience of the followers of Jesus who were gathered in Jerusalem for the festival celebrating the harvest of the winter wheat. They were present for what to them seemed like the birth of something wonderful. And like Miles Davies they didn’t invent the music (God), nor did they invent cool (the Holy Spirit), yet they had come to understand God and God’s Holy Spirit in a new light.

The Day of Pentecost is 50 days after Easter Day. If you follow the timeline suggested in the Gospels, Jesus appeared to Mary, the Apostles and others at different times for about 40 days. Then there is the story of the ascension, Jesus going up to heaven. The point is that at some point the encounters with the resurrected body of Christ ended, he no longer appeared to his followers in that way. So, for about 10 days the followers of Jesus lost touch with him. Perhaps the floundered, perhaps they were frightened, but they didn’t loose hope and they didn’t abandon one another. They went to the city and prayed together.

It was there, in Jerusalem, on the Day of Pentecost that they experienced the birth of cool, they experienced God’s Holy Spirit in a new and exciting way. She blew through the building they were in and blew out the dust and cobwebs of their lives, their minds, their hearts, their soul and their community.

They knew that they hadn’t invent God or the Holy Spirit but what they were experiencing was the fulfilment of a promise that Jesus had made to them, “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf.” That same Spirit is available to the Church today; she is born again in our lives and community, calling us, pushing us to accept the ministry God has for each of us. Miles Davies might have laid down his trumpet but couldn’t, we might lay down our trumpet and refuse to herald the birth of cool but we won’t.

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