May 23, 2021
(originally published for Pentecost 2020)
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 a 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.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs – in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'”
Something to Do
The rush of wind
There are so many ways to connect with the wind – blow bubbles, make a pinwheel, sit under a tree, watch the clouds go by. Take the time to do one or more of these this week and contemplate the ways in which the wind is like the Spirit.
Tongues of fire
Don’t set your head on fire – but do light a candle or two and contemplate the ways in which flame is like the Spirit.
Have some fun with Google translate. How many different languages can you say “filled with the Holy Spirit” in? How is language like the Spirit?
Something to Wonder
At this sound, the crowd gathered…
Remember when crowds could gather? How does reading about this crowd make you feel? What do you miss about crowds? What do you not miss?
Have you ever experienced the Holy Spirit in a crowd? What was the experience like? Was is exhilarating? uplifting? frightening?
Amazement/ Bewilderment/ Sneering
People’s reactions to the revelation of the Spirit included amazement and confusion…and cynicism: “But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”
Have you ever reacted with doubt to someone else’s experience of the Spirit? Or to your own experience? What made it hard to believe? What made you re-think your evaluation?
Why do you think some revelations are harder to believe than others?
How are you predisposed to recognize the Spirit? How might you stretch yourself?
Something to Learn
The Holy Spirit – a primer
Once again, the Bible Project has produced an excellent introduction to a complex topic. Read the essay and watch the video here.
Also worth watching is their video on the first chapters of Acts, as the disciples receive the Spirit and the church begins to take shape.
Something to Pray
Holy God, we do not always understand your word or your ways.
Give us wisdom and imagination and courage as we learn and grow.
The story this week has made me wonder about…
(what questions are still on your heart?)
Receive my questions and help me hear your answers.
The story this week has filled me with…
(how are you feeling?)
Accept my praise, heal my hurt, ease my worry.
The story this week has reminded me of…
(are there situations or people you are thinking of?)
Be with all who are in need of you.
In Jesus’ name, we pray.