June 1, 2015


A Sunday ago we celebrated Memorial Day weekend but we also celebrated Pentecost, what is known as the "birthday" of the church. Although a lesser known Christian holiday it is nonetheless an important one to ponder. Pentecost happens about fifty days or seven weeks after Easter and celebrates the giving of Holy Spirit following the ascension of Jesus. Think about it as God's very breathe upon all living things. Jesus said to Nicodemus that the wind which blows on you everyday is like this spirit.

The story goes that many of the disciples were in a locked room and others gathered from all over the world and a mighty wind and tongues of fire appeared and they all acted as if they were drunk. It was definitely not what we Presbyterians call "decently and in good order". Some have mischaracterized this event as a wild and wooly day (it may have been that); when folks were so overwhelmed with Holy Spirit that they spoke in incoherent tongues. But the Bible says to the contrary that God gave them the power to understand one another in different languages. Truly listen to one another.

John Buchanan has written that although a heavenly peaceful looking dove has become the symbol for the Holy Spirit, that Celtic Christian tradition suggests that this may be too gentle. A more appropriate symbol may be a wild goose; for God can be like that sometimes, shaking things up a bit and stirring the pot in our lives and the church, to bring something new and wonderful - maybe long overdue. Perhaps within the commotion God is speaking and leading us in a new direction.

But to me whether we are calm or full of it some days is not the point. There can be times of both serenity and times of exuberance in life and worship. The point is recognizing and embracing the Holy Spirit. And if it is God's spirit, it is the spirit made manifest in Jesus. It is the spirit of compassion and kindness and mercy at work. Love in all its wildness. When we act like Jesus, the Holy Spirit rests upon us. When we don't - it doesn't.


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