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Wind and Fire

We will celebrate Pentecost Sunday in worship on May 19th. The day of Pentecost commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit to the disciples after the Resurrection of Jesus. Many people were gathered in Jerusalem because Pentecost is also a Jewish festival, known as the Feast of Weeks, which remembers God’s giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai fifty days after the Exodus. The disciples were still gathered in confusion and apprehension about what would happen to them next.


On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit appeared in the sound of a great wind, tongues of fire, and an outpouring of different languages. I often wonder what it would have been like to experience it. I imagine that it was an event the people who were there talked about for the rest of their lives, as people in our day talk about being in a great storm or witnessing a phenomenal event, like the recent total solar eclipse.


The sense that we get when we read the Pentecost story is the sense of power. Wind and fire are mighty natural forces that can animate our lives or disrupt them. They can be harnessed for beneficial or destructive reasons. A refreshing breeze on a hot day is a beautiful thing, but gale-force winds can cause great damage. Flames in a fireplace warm and delight us, but fire out of control has upended many lives. The Holy Spirit’s arrival on Pentecost demonstrated the power of God to upset the status quo and to energize ordinary people to do extraordinary things.


Like any anniversary, Pentecost is not just for looking back. We commemorate not only the great things God has done but the next great things God will be doing, and we pray for the sense of power and purpose that Pentecost represents.


The color for Pentecost day is red. I invite you to wear red on Pentecost Sunday, remembering the great coming of the Spirit of God upon the church, and looking forward to the new work of that same Spirit in our life together.

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