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.
Theologian Frederick Buechner once referred to the Holy Spirit as the "shy member" of the Trinity. Well, if the Holy Spirit is normally shy, an exception was made on the day of Pentecost. On that day the Spirit set aside any notion of working in the background or behind the scenes and came down to steal center stage. The disciples who are gathered together were blown away by the "rush of a violent wind," and shocked when "divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them."
I can attest that throughout my life I have had many experiences of the Holy Spirit - but none quite so dramatic and obvious as what happened on the day of Pentecost. But oh how I wish to experience the Spirit so boldly! As I write this devotion, the Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church in Iowa is set to begin this evening. By the time you read this, we will be on our third day of the meeting and will be gathered together on the day of Pentecost to lay hands on and ordain new clergy to ministry. We will be in the midst of many arguments about money and voting for delegates to the next General Conference.
We will be, many of us, hoping for the Holy Spirit to sweep in and do a new, obvious thing. Oh, how I long for the tongues of fire. How I long for God to make the way forward so obvious that no one can deny it or stand in the way any longer. I pray for the Spirit to show up in ways we have never seen before, for hearts of stone to be turned to flesh, for us to listen to the sons and daughters who prophesy, to the young who see visions, and to the old who dream dreams.
Lord, may your Holy Spirit come, on this and every day, and may our eyes, hearts, minds, and doors be open to it.
God of Fire and Passion, we pray for your Holy Spirit to come and do a new thing in your church. We pray that we will find the way to be faithful to Jesus Christ in showing love to all people in all the world. Help us to say "all means all" and really mean it this time, just as you do. Amen.