For many, Pentecost calls to mind images of fire, a recounting of the disciples of Christ speaking in tongues, and A LOT of talk of the not often mentioned member of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Some of you may be recalling pew after pew of church grandmas dressed head to toe in their finest red clothes .
The day of Pentecost as we see it in Acts 2 involves all of those things (except maybe the red sweaters): fire, speaking in tongues, the Holy Spirit, and about 3,000 people being saved through baptism after hearing the Word of God in their own native tongue. Can you imagine? It must have been an amazing and terrifying sight! As the passage says, tongues of fire came and rested on those gathered and they were able to speak in all sorts of languages. Languages that were understood by those gathered. Languages that apparently the disciples should not have been able to speak, but they did. And, in looking closely at this passage, it is not so much what the people do as it is what the Spirit does through them. Let that sink in for a minute.
In my tradition, we don’t talk a whole lot about the Holy Spirit on a regular basis. We save it for Pentecost and even then we kind of distract ourselves by concerning ourselves with how much red we are all wearing. For many, the Holy Spirit’s work is more difficult to understand, and we don’t always like to grapple with difficult things, but Pentecost brings us the opportunity to put the work of the Holy Spirit right out front. Pentecost reminds us of not only what happened on that day described in Acts 2 but what is happening every day: the Spirit of God working in and through God’s people.
So let’s celebrate! Let’s celebrate the power of the Holy Spirit to work through some nobodies in Jerusalem and bring about 3,000 people to be saved through baptism. Let’s celebrate that in baptism God pours out His grace and gives His Spirit to nobodies like you and me. And now, as forgiven members of the body of Christ, the Spirit works through us everyday to love and serve our neighbor to the glory of God.
Happy Pentecost. Red sweater optional.