“When you strip it of everything else, Pentecost stands for power and life. That’s what came into the church when the Holy Spirit came down on the day of Pentecost.” – David Wilkerson
When I was in 8th grade I was on a leadership team for a middle school youth event for the Wisconsin Conference of the UMC. I was asked to share my testimony during one of the plenary sessions. After trying to figure out what that all meant, I worked with some great adult leaders to help me shape what became my first sermon. Being on stage speaking to about 500 of my closest friends was a blur. What sticks most in my memory was what happened next. I high-fived many friends on the leadership team as I worked my way back to my spot through the cross legged pre-teens and settled back into my spot in front of the stage.
A few moments after sitting down I felt the warm embrace of a hug from behind. After enjoying the hug I turn around to thank the friend who reached out. There is no one there. There is no one within an arms distance from me…
It took a few more experiences in life to begin to understand that this very really physical experience was what I like to call a “breeze of the Holy Spirit”. I have really grown to love Pentecost, as it is a celebration of the Holy Spirit in such a powerful way. Some communities of faith are more comfortable with the idea of the presence of God being with us here on earth through the Holy Spirit – however I totally understand how it can be an interesting thing. God with us that unlike Jesus, we can not easily see, we can not easily hear, and is altogether elusive yet with us? Yes – I understand how the Holy Spirit is mysterious.
One of my favorite references of the Holy Spirit is when Jesus is preparing his disciples for his death. Jesus asks the disciples if they love him to obey his commandments. He then assures them by promising to ask the father to send another comforter.
What a beautiful image. I think of the warm comfort of a fire on a cold night. The flames can be deceptively warm and inviting – yet are also full of live and power.
Christian faith throughout history and today has been often misconstrued into many things it is not. Theology has helped me personally find answers to so many questions and assumptions I had. I have heard many times from friends and critics that the church is dead. While religion sometimes can seem old, dated, or irrelevant – it is the Holy Spirit that breathes life and the power of God into the church. It is the Spirit that connects us with with the divine. Sometimes that connections is a light breeze, like a hug, bringing us comfort and the knowledge that we are with God. Other times that connection is a gust, the tongues of fire, setting ablaze all of God’s creation with love and fullness of life.
I pray that all believers can be comforted, embolded, and strengthened by the Holy Spirit to share the love of God throughout the communities we are blessed to be a part of.