“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.” Acts 2:1-4 (NRSV)
Many words come to mind when I think of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, also called the Holy Comforter, is the Person of the Trinity I call upon when I am scared or need comfort. But on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit seems less like a Comforter and more like a rocket launcher. The wild, untamable Spirit of God propels the disciples and people in Jerusalem to actions and speech out of their control. Pentecost is called the birthday of the Church because on this day God anoints and commissions individuals to spread the Good News as a community and to go places where they would not dare to go on their own.
When I feel brave enough to surrender to the Holy Spirit, this is what I pray. (Fill in the blank with the words in the drawing.) “Holy Spirit, __________ me/us.” I believe the Spirit still wants to fire up the Church to do these things for us as individuals and as the Body of Christ in the world.
For the past few years I have not thought of Pentecost without the piece of silk below coming to mind. My mother was a dancer and this was her costume from Stravinsky’s Firebird ballet in the 1930’s. My husband Andy repurposed it as a Pentecost chausuble–a colorful outer liturgical vestment worn during the Eucharist or Communion.