As I contemplate tomorrow’s celebration of Pentecost, my brain keeps coming back to one thing: Dairy Queen Snickers Blizzards. You see, I was sitting in the outdoor seating of a local DQ one warm summer night with a couple of college friends. We were discussing random theological things and the topic drifted toward the work of the Holy Spirit.
“Well, the greatest thing the Holy Spirit does, in my opinion,” says the scholar on my right, “is to bring unity to the body of Christ.”
That’s when it happened. I did a kind of snort/spit take and a piece of snickers (from the aforementioned blizzard) got stuck in a place in my sinuses that was… well, unpleasant.
Once things got back in order, I asked “Why do you say that the Holy Spirit brings unity?”
“Because in Acts chapter 2,” says he, “it says that the Holy Spirit brought unity to the people in the upper room.”
I’ve been thinking about that statement a lot today. Because, as you probably know, that isn’t quite what the Bible says at all. Acts 2 opens with this statement:
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
The word translated “accord” in that verse is the Greek word ὁμοθυμαδόν (homothumadon) and it means… well… that’s tricky. See, in the NIV, CEV (my personal favorite), NASB, Message and others, it says that they were “together” in one place. That is a perfectly fine translation. However…
Homothumadon is a combination of two words. The general meaning of this compound word is to “rushalong” “in unison”. The image it paints is one of harmony. In other places in the New Testament, the word is translated as “unity” or “one mind.” And these are fine translations as well. However…
Let’s go back to this compound word thing. The two root words independently are homou which means “assembled together” and thumos which means, among other things, “passion,” “heat,” and “ardour.” So what does Acts 2 say?
The people assembled in the upper room had come together with passion and ardour, earnestly seeking the promise Jesus had said would come. There was a burning heat of unity in them already when the Holy Spirit showed up and did an amazing thing in them and then through them.
So, as we approach Pentecost this year, I pray that – as much as we rely on the Holy Spirit to be our Comforter, our Guide and all of the the other roles the Holy Spirit is here to fulfill and be – we will recall, reaffirm and then recreate the passionate unity that was present in the upper room. Then, let the Holy Spirit come and do amazing things in and through us.