Tag Archives: Pentecost

fire fighters

 

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This Sunday is a significant Sunday for the life of the Church…actually it is the celebration of the life of the Church, because it’s the Church’s birthday! Pentecost Sunday is the day we commemorate the reception of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the movement that came to be known as the Church. The story goes a little something like this, “When Pentecost Day arrived, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound from heaven like the howling of a fierce wind filled the entire house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be individual flames of fire alighting on each one of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit” – Acts 2:1-4 And from that moment on the world would never be the same. I love the description for the presence of the Holy Spirit; wind and fire. (Add earth and you’ve got a soul-filled experience, I couldn’t help myself). But these two movements in nature are both powerful and mysterious, yet how often do we think of the action of the Church in terms of wind or fire today?

Often the Church is more of a comfortable movement in the world today. We hear passages from scripture and rather than being spurred on or challenged, we simply seek to be affirmed or comforted in the station or position in life in which we currently exist. Take for instance this passage from Paul to the church in Thessalonica, “Make sure no one repays a wrong with a wrong, but always pursue the good for each other and everyone else. Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Don’t suppress the Spirit.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:15-19 That sounds good. Don’t repay wrongs, rejoice and be prayerful, give thanks and don’t suppress the Spirit…wait, what!?! The Greek word is actually sbennymi, which meant to extinguish. Don’t extinguish the Spirit? But think about it for a minute. This is the presence of God that on the day of Pentecost was described as a fierce wind and fire. What is it about the movement of the Church today that resembles a fierce wind or fire?

In his book, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis is describing the four children’s preparation for their first meeting with Aslan. The children become a bit scared when they realize that Aslan is a lion. Here’s how the conversation concludes, “’Then he isn’t safe?’ said Lucy. ‘Safe?’ said Mr Beaver; ‘don’t you hear what Mrs Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you’.” I think that’s where safety has taken over the flow of the Spirit in the Church today. We want the action of the Spirit to be safe, comfortable, fit our schedule, pat us on the back and tell us we’re doing okay. But what we don’t realize is that in doing so we are fighting the very fire of God that continually seeks to set the church ablaze. When we seek to control the Spirit or dictate how the Holy Spirit must work in our churches or in another’s life we are actually extinguishing that which is unpredictable. And yet God does not force us to remain in the flames of His love. In fact it’s quite easy to suppress the presence and power of God when our agendas of safety, comfort and control take over. So what will it be this Pentecost? Will we find ourselves consumed by the mystery of a God who is nowhere near safe, but good? Or will we continue to suppress the very Spirit that gave birth to Kingdom of God on earth?

Maybe it’s high time we put down the fire extinguishers.

 

 

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50 days

In our household we have a tradition that at some point began with our firstborn. I guess you could call it the Birthday countdown. Somewhere in the calendar between birthdays it becomes necessary for my wife and I to do the math prior to the next child’s birthday and then the countdown is on. It has started with as many as 200 days, but usually doesn’t get serious until around the 30 day mark. In the meantime plans are made, presents are wished for, the day is marked out with incredible expectation and then all that there is left to do is wait somewhat patiently as the countdown marches on. Although patience is usually not the key expression of this countdown. But on the upside my wife and I have gotten really good at knowing how many days are in every month.

During this season in the church calendar I can’t help but think about the Birthday countdown. We are currently in the 50 days between Passover and Pentecost or more appropriately between Easter and Pentecost. In fact, the name Pentecost literally means fiftieth. This is the time in the church we commemorate the coming of the Holy Spirit and we remember the waiting of the disciples. This to me is the most incredible part. The disciples, although living in fear of what might happen to them were hanging onto Jesus’ last promise before his Ascension. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8 And then when the day of Pentecost came, the world was turned upside down. This power that became present in the lives of the believers transformed everything.

Sometimes I think we as the church still find ourselves in the waiting period; the countdown. We are waiting on God to do something in our midst. We use words like revival, renewal, refreshing, etc., but the problem is, we aren’t called to wait anymore. You see, the original waiting/countdown was Jesus’ promise to those disciples who gathered in that upper room. And when the day of Pentecost came, the waiting game ended. We believe that since the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit is present, living and active in the lives of believers everywhere and yet sometimes we find ourselves waiting. But for what? This is the same Spirit that transformed terrified fishermen into bold and defiant preachers. This is the same Spirit that transformed a Pharisaical terrorist into the church’s first missionary. This is the same Spirit that led believers out of hiding and into a willingness to die in a Roman arena. And we think something special has to happen for The Spirit to be at work. Wake up church! The Spirit is at work and moving and bringing new life and we need to stop waiting and start moving in step with God.

This Sunday we will commemorate and celebrate Pentecost. But it’s time we live out of the power of The Spirit and stop waiting/counting days for whatever we think might ignite the Spirit’s presence within us. The Spirit is already ablaze, let’s not be the one’s to quench it with our waiting.


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