#Occupy: The New Pentecost? | Sojourners

#Occupy: The New Pentecost?

Pentecost depiction by Duccio di Buoninsegna via http://bit.ly/w3Q6IA
Pentecost depiction by Duccio di Buoninsegna via http://bit.ly/w3Q6IA

For those who re-discover their faith by taking seriously the vision offered in the second chapter of the book of Acts, the Occupy movement may appear to them as the New Pentecost. Note the similarities between the ancient story and the contemporary movement:


  • In Acts, the emergence of new power occurred when the “gossip” about the Resurrection became a life-empowering message that transcended all lingual differences: “each heard in his own language.” Likewise in Occupy Wall Street: in the development of a new means of communication, people of diverse backgrounds both spoke and heard in a common language. It was, indeed, a New Pentecost.
  • The roster of nationalities was inclusive of Parthians, Medes, Elamites, back then, and New Yorkers, Californians, Texans and Washingtonians—ad infinity—today. There was a commonality about the message that only those who had been left behind by empire greed were able to comprehend.
  • Perplexed, uninvolved citizens were bowled over, not simply by the diversity of involvement, but essentially by the commonality of communication of these disenfranchised masses. “What the hell’s going on?” they demanded. “They’re just drunk!” came the cynical answer.

But to those who paid attention, some minor miracles could be noted. Deprived of loud speaker technology, for example, they invented a more human method of broadcast. Because they lacked appointed or elected leaders, the newly evolved community devised ways of organizing. In contrast to Wall Street methodology, the newly resurrected human community shared their food and goods with one another.

Overall, a more human community had spun out of nowhere, not fully aware of its source or its destiny, but confident that a new vision and a new voice was emerging. That vision carried with it the promise of hope that is slowly overcoming a culture corrupted by the god of greed.

When perplexed onlookers inquired about this unexpected grace, a man called Peter stood among them and cited an ancient prophet named Joel:

    “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my spirit on all people.
    Your sons and daughters will prophecy, young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams.
    Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
    and they will prophecy.”
(Acts 2:15-18)

Emerging out of the New Pentecost is the promise of a New Creation that will transcend the endless, hollow, self-destructive promises of raging empires.

Harry C. Kiely is a retired United Methodist clergy whose entire ministry as a local pastor has been in the Washington, DC area. He is the co-author (with Ira Zepp) of One Nation, Many Gods: Confronting the Idols of American Empire. He is married to Arlene Kiely and they are parents of four sons.
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