Fire (readings for Pentecost Sunday, May 06)
Scraping a match on the cement, my dad – on his knees – lifted a flame to the water heater’s hatch.
We’d just bought this old house. There was lots to do before we could live in it. We were just getting started.
And then, blue fire split the coal-soot gloom – how far? Six, eight feet? A flame-thrower’s stream throbbed with heat and dazzling light – then, dissipated, vanished.
What had I seen? It was so over – had it been real?
Yes. It had seared itself into Dad’s arms and face.
The ignition accomplished by the Spirit of God at Pentecost was surely no less astonishing.
Was it real? Could it have happened?
I think so. For every now and again I meet someone who seems to bear the inner marks of a fire that few have felt.
Read on, and imagine you’re an eye-witness, dimly expecting only something:
A Sound Like a Strong Wind
When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.
There were many Jews staying in Jerusalem just then, devout pilgrims from all over the world. When they heard the sound, they came on the run. Then when they heard, one after another, their own mother tongues being spoken, they were thunderstruck. They couldn’t for the life of them figure out what was going on, and kept saying, “Aren’t these all Galileans? How come we’re hearing them talk in our various mother tongues? Parthians, Medes, and Elamites; Visitors from Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene;Immigrants from Rome, both Jews and proselytes; Even Cretans and Arabs! “They’re speaking our languages, describing God’s mighty works!”
Their heads were spinning; they couldn’t make head or tail of any of it. They talked back and forth, confused: “What’s going on here?”
Others joked, “They’re drunk on cheap wine.”
Peter Speaks Up
That’s when Peter stood up and, backed by the other eleven, spoke out with bold urgency: “Fellow Jews, all of you who are visiting Jerusalem, listen carefully and get this story straight. These people aren’t drunk as some of you suspect. They haven’t had time to get drunk—it’s only nine o’clock in the morning. This is what the prophet Joel announced would happen:
“In the Last Days,” God says,”I will pour out my Spirit on every kind of people: Your sons will prophesy, also your daughters;Your young men will see visions, your old men dream dreams. When the time comes, I’ll pour out my Spirit on those who serve me, men and women both, and they’ll prophesy. I’ll set wonders in the sky above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billowing smoke, the sun turning black and the moon blood-red, before the Day of the Lord arrives, the Day tremendous and marvelous; And whoever calls out for help to me, God, will be saved.”
The Message (MSG) © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
Tags: Pentecost readingsPentecost, lectionary+May+31 06, Bible+May+31 06, sermon, readings, pentecostal, Acts+2, Monte Asbury