This past Sunday, Christians around the globe gathered in churches scattered far and wide to celebrate something big–the birth of the church. On Pentecost Sunday, we remember the remarkable story of the Holy Spirit roaring like a hurricane throughout the room where the apostles were gathered, branding them as holy vessels with a tongue of fire above their heads, and giving them the ability to speak in many different languages. On that day thousands of years ago, God showed up in a big way. God sent his Spirit…the Advocate…the Breath of God…to fulfill the promise Jesus made to the disciples before he was raised to heaven.
As the disciples spoke, the Spirit was set loose–opening the minds and hearts of countless people from all over the known world to the gospel message.
At its core, Pentecost is a celebration of the Holy Spirit and of God’s awesome power to fulfill each and every one of the promises made in Scripture. It’s a celebration of hope –the hope that we have in God’s mighty power to act in this world and to build his kingdom here…on Earth as it is in heaven.
Sometimes, it can be hard to reconcile the Pentecost story to the world in which we live. There’s too much hate. Too much evil. Too much anger. Too much uncertainty. But lately, I’ve felt a tugging deep within my core–a desire to proclaim the goodness of God to all I meet. It’s like a little spark–a tiny ember popping from a flaming log and shining for a moment in the night sky. It burns in the center of my soul and says, “Tell people what God is doing.” So I’ve been trying. When I hear God speak through a piece of Scripture, devotional reading, or prayer, I send it out in a text message, or even in a chat group at work. Sometimes I omit the words God and Jesus, depending on who I’m reaching out to…but I figure the Holy Spirit will take care of that. As an ember, I’m called to provide a little sizzle, not a full-blown conflagration.
I share my spark in other ways, too–being gracious to those I meet in public, having conversations and listening when interacting with fellow human beings rather than keeping my head down and eyes focused on my phone. And reaching out to build new relationships…to expand my sphere beyond the four walls of my home, or even the many walls of our church building. It’s not always easy, and sometimes there’s a trade-off in time or energy. As an introvert, I prefer cocooning, but I’m trying to follow the pull to be an ember.
Because as the Spirit threw open the doors behind which the disciples hid during Pentecost so they could share the good news of Jesus Christ, so, too, the Spirit calls us forth into the turbulent waters of the world today to share the message of God’s love. It’s not easy. There’s much that stands in the way. But where God wills, the Spirit makes a way…just as it did on Pentecost over two thousand years ago.
The psalmist writes:
The story of Pentecost is the story of God showing up. But it didn’t end there. History is full of moments when the Spirit has moved. Some have been blazes that have led to national or international revivals, while others have been small sparks in individual lives that have transformed relationships, brought hope in the midst of darkness, or changed the course of a church congregation. There’s SO much the Spirit can do when it is unleashed in our lives, even if it’s just an ember that burns brightly for a moment.
So let’s be embers, my friends. Let’s be the spark of the Spirit and lean into our communities, our nation, our world, and allow God room to move. Let’s be the hands and feet that bring good news to the brokenhearted. Let’s speak to others in words of love. Let’s offer grace to those whom we disagree with. Let’s forgive those who have wronged us. Let’s show mercy to those whom we feel are misguided or wrong. Let’s offer food to the hungry, and care to the homeless. Let’s listen before we speak, and allow others to talk. Let’s greet everyone we meet with kindness. Let’s open our hearts to empathy, and show compassion for those whose journey looks different from ours. Let’s sit with those who mourn, and encourage those who are struggling. Let’s push our each other to be better and to do better.
Most importantly, let’s expect God to show up today. And tomorrow. And the next day. And let’s be ready to follow when he does.
Blessings and Peace,