“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” Acts 2:1-4
A Word of Hope
We have no idea what we are doing when we blithely ask for the Power of the Holy Spirit to fill our church—or our lives. On Pentecost Sunday, we summon our best creative minds to bring a kind of dramatic representation of the experience depicted in Acts, but even in the days of the fiery descent on cables or flames bursting from behind the floral arrangements, it pales in comparison to the Spirit’s force.
This year Pentecost descended with organic power. Swirling. Unpredictable. Roaring winds. Uprooted trees. Torn limbs. Downed fences. Shattered windows. Rushing water.
Out of the chaos came new beginnings. In one hard-hit neighborhood near me, streets were impassable, blocked by a stockade of branches wrenched from trees. Shredded leaves like confetti were strewn everywhere. Roadways were flooded. And into this carnage came neighbors—men, women, youth—shouldering the burden together. Clearing debris, clearing the obstacles which prevented passage—each speaking the language of their own gifts, offered freely. A unity of common spirit and compassion.
Pentecostal energy descended upon the Interfaith Peace Chapel in the Service of Ordination for Rev. Winner Laws. Family, friends, supporters from diverse communities took a challenging trek with the earth still scarred by the thunderstorm to bring their presence, their prayers, their gifts to this good woman following the call to ministry. During the formal procession of clergy wearing stoles with Pentecostal red and flame, those gathered joined in singing: “Here am I Lord…. I have heard you calling in the night….I will go if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.” Diverse worship styles and the liturgy of word and dance and song coalesced into one dynamic form. Rev. Dr. Irie Session’s sermon flamed with womanist passion and Bishop Alex Byrd moved our collective heart with his musical offering: “Say Yes.” Then, with the laying on of hands and our blessings, new power flowed into Winner. “And [we] spent much time together in the temple, breaking bread and eating food with glad and generous hearts, praising God….”Acts 2: 43 (edited).
Spirit of Pentecost, kindle within us the fire of your love. May we be the church alive—beyond division, unified in rich diversity! Amen.
Dr. Pat Saxon