But Moses said to Joshua, “Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!” - Numbers 11:29 (NRSV)
The formerly enslaved people, led by Moses out of Pharaoh’s Egypt and through the Red Sea, will not stop complaining about their wilderness diet of dewy manna that appears every morning sure as the sunrise. The only thing more constant than manna is the people’s incessant demand that Moses give them meat. Burned out and bereft, Moses asks God to kill him.
“I am not able to carry this people alone,” he wails. “They are too heavy for me.”
“Of course they are,” God says. “No one can carry a people alone – not even you. I’ll take some of the spirit I put on you and give it to 70 of your best folks. They will lighten your load.”
And so it goes. But there are these other guys, Eldad and Medad, who don’t get chosen as part of the 70. And yet they, too, speak the word of the Lord. “Make them stop!” Joshua tells Moses.
“Why would I do that?” Moses responds. “I wish God would anoint everyone with the Spirit!”
And so God has.
The Pentecost season is a great time to acknowledge that we can’t do it all – love God, eradicate racism, welcome the stranger, lift up the lowly, nurture beloved community, reinvent church for a pandemic, and more – on our own. And Pentecost is the perfect time to celebrate that we don’t have to. Because there is more than enough Spirit to go around. Because a people empowered can always do more together than the most gifted leader. Because a Spirit-filled church can change the world.
That the load is not ours alone to bear, and that your Spirit carries us all, we praise you.
Vicki Kemper is the Pastor of First Congregational, UCC, of Amherst, Massachusetts.