Pentecost

The world seems to move from one tragedy to another. Oh what a year we say as “masks” are now optional for most. Yet although we see light there is only darkness for so many more. India is in turmoil as Covid-19 wreaks havoc. Here we are, soon to celebrate the Christian festival of Pentecost, some 50 days after Easter. A moment when the Church celebrates it’s birth by the Spirit which came not as a Dove but as Flames of Fire. Yet flames of fire wreak havoc in Israel and Gaza as I write, and we hope and pray that talk of a cease fire turns to a lasting reality. Is it just too simplistic to say surely there is enough “earth” for everyone, why fight and grab for more? Is it too simplistic to say we are our brother’s keeper so let us love and get along, life is all too short? Is it too simplistic to hope, pray, and believe the Church can live a gospel of love, when so often it has preached a gospel of fear and judgment and has abused rather than blessed the children? So many wrongs. Yet still I hope, yet still I pray, yet still I believe, perhaps this Pentecost can light a flame of love and grace. What do you hope for? What is it you pray for? What cause has your attention and energy? If you could fix one thing, what might that be?

Pentecost by Mark Debolt
Not as a dove the Holy Spirit came
to the disciples gathered in a room,
but as a violent wind and tongues of flame.

A cyclone roared the ineffable name
as fire on each blushing brow did bloom.
Not as a dove the Holy Spirit came

to give sight to the blind and heal the lame
and raise the dead and dispel error’s gloom,
but as a violent wind and tongues of flame.

The Breath of God is anything but tame.
Who dally with it dally with their doom.
Not as a dove the Holy Spirit came,
but as a violent wind and tongues of flame.

Pentecost by Malcolm Guite
Today we feel the wind beneath our wings
Today  the hidden fountain flows and plays
Today the church draws breath at last and sings
As every flame becomes a Tongue of praise.
This is the feast of fire, air, and water
Poured out and breathed and kindled into earth.
The earth herself awakens to her maker
And is translated out of death to birth.
The right words come today in their right order
And every word spells freedom and release
Today the gospel crosses every border
All tongues are loosened by the Prince of Peace
Today the lost are found in His translation.
Whose mother-tongue is Love, in every nation (from Sounding the Season)

As we move to pray I offer you the words of the hymn Wind that makes all winds that blow by Thomas Troeger.

Prayer:
Wind who makes all winds that blow—
gusts that bend the saplings low,
gales that heave the sea in waves,
stirrings in the mind’s deep caves—
aim your breath with steady power
on your church, this day, this hour.
Raise, renew the life we’ve lost,
Spirit God of Pentecost.

Fire who fuels all fires that burn—
suns around which planets turn,
beacons marking reefs and shoals,
shining truth to guide our souls—
come to us as once you came;
burst in tongues of sacred flame!
Light and Power, Might and Strength,
fill your church, its breadth and length.

Holy Spirit, Wind and Flame,
move within our mortal frame.
Make our hearts an altar pyre.
Kindle them with your own fire.
Breathe and blow upon that blaze
till our lives, our deeds, and ways
speak that tongue which every land
by your grace shall understand
.

One thought on “Pentecost

  1. In a complex world where so much needs fixing and where it is difficult to identify just one thing, I nominate the future as the one thing I wish I could fix: A more just, equitable and peaceful world, a wiser and gentler generation, one more successful at meeting the challenges to benefit the common good of everyone and perhaps one that identifies and corrects the “wrongs” that seem to thrive over time. I like your questions. They are hard ones.

    Aside from noting Pentecost on the calendar printed on the back of the weekly church bulletins of my youth, I knew very little about its meaning until my undergraduate years at a small, Midwestern college located only a short walk from a quaint looking church labeled with the simple sign, Pentecostal Church. I was curious and persuaded a friend to attend a service with me. We thought it wise to wait until the last second to step inside and stay quietly in the back, hoping not to draw attention to ourselves. Our judgement was quite flawed as all eyes were immediately on us, the 2 college girls. We were warmly and vigorously greeted by many, and drawn down the narrow aisle to the middle of the 2nd row where we remained during the entire service, one I will not forget. What started out quietly in prayer, built into a growing crescendo of human sound I had never heard before and is difficult to describe. Somewhat like a wave, the sound rose and fell several times before fading altogether. Afterwards, several people were happy to tell us about the “sharing of the spirit within” that was the foundation of their church experience. This interesting experience inspired me to take a course entitled, “The Development of American Christian Thought”, one of my favorites at the time.

    Of course during that year, 1968, the struggles of the world were the same as they are now, minus the pandemic, with conflict in the Middle East, civil rights and social unrest. This gives me pause. Thank you.

    Like

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