This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday, which is the day we remember the sending of the Holy Spirit upon Christ’s earliest disciples. In Acts 2, we hear the story of the disciples gathered at the Festival of Pentecost when suddenly the Divine Spirit rushes in like a wind and changes everything.
We often get itchy around the words “Pentecostal” or the “pouring out of the Spirit” because we have certain images that come to mind. Some of us think of babbling made up languages or snake-handling or folks being “slayed in the Spirit.”
I used to think about my friend who was forced to endure an “exorcism” because they were gay. I used to think about my friends in high school who were pressured to find their “heart language” and speak in tongues because they weren’t “saved” if they didn’t. I used to think about a preacher convincing 17 year old me that I was supposed to marry one of the guys at church camp. Spoiler alert, that did NOT happen.
But nowadays, I think about something else. Something so much better. I think of this image from my friend Pastor Ric.
The truth is that in so many ways, when people focus on “flashy expressions” of the Holy Spirit, we ignore some of the most powerful work of God. When we get hung up on unexplainable phenomenon needing to happen, we ignore the powerful movement of God in the everyday and simple and beautiful.
Because maybe the Spirit does sometimes bring joy and make us dance. Sometimes, God does move in such a way that defies explanation.
And what I’ve found is that more often, God moves in the quiet soil of our lives. Cultivating us by pulling weeds and laying fertilizer. Sometimes the work of the Spirit is that annoying little voice that tells us to bite our tongue or to log off Facebook and go to bed. Or to drink a cup of water. Or to offer that apology that we know we owe someone. Or maybe it’s this sense that we really should to go to therapy.
Often, the Spirit works by calling us to growth by convicting us of where we’ve gone astray from God’s love. It isn’t shaming us by making us feel like we are bad. It is that deep sense that we didn’t do the right thing; this is the Holy Spirit calling us back into alignment with God’s ways.
Some of us have an overactive sense of this and end up beating ourselves up for things that aren’t our responsibility, surely. But there are also a lot of us who have spent a long time ignoring these nudges. Because it doesn’t feel good when God pulls weeds out from our hearts. We are used to those thistles and thorns, and their roots have dug a lot deeper than we thought.
That’s what I love about Pentecost, though. Every year we come back around to this story of the stubborn disciples having their entire lives turned upside down in a couple of minutes. Yet we forget that it took three years of spending every waking moment with Jesus to prepare them for this moment. A moment that birthed the church, a moment years in the making. This weekend, let us pause and pray together simply, “Holy Spirit, what would you have me do?” Let us unplug our ears and open our hearts and close our mouths. Let us ask again and again, “Holy Spirit, what would you have me do?” and trust that the Spirit will tell us when we listen.
– Pastor Megan