Wouldn’t it be fascinating to hear railroad-track stones talk about what it’s like when a freight train passes overhead? Not just the loudness of the horn, but the roaring of the engine, the high-pitched screeching of the wheels on the rails, the quaking of the earth all around and themselves being rudely jostled (sometimes in the middle of the night!), the air itself almost exploding from the speeding tonnage. And then, as fast as it approaches, it fades away into an eerie silence, leaving the stones to collect themselves, to make sure no one got violently ejected or crushed, then to resettle themselves into their former nooks and crannies (someone should write a book!).
I’m thinking about this on this day before Pentecost, as imagination fails in attempts to adequately describe the long-awaited arrival of the Holy Spirit. The Passion Translation tries like this: “ … all the disciples were gathered in one place. Suddenly they heard the sound of a violent blast of wind rushing into the house from out of the heavenly realm. The roar of the wind was so overpowering it was all anyone could bear! Then all at once a pillar of fire appeared before their eyes. It separated into tongues of fire that engulfed each one of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and were inspired to speak in tongues – empowered by the Spirit to speak in languages they had never learned!” First, it seems there was no actual wind, only the violent sound, the roar. Then, reminiscent of the inferno from one of my father’s over-fueled barbeques, a standing wall of fire in the room divides the attendees into columns of living fire! That’s all we get to read about that extraordinary display of sovereignty. I can only think the disciples were so entirely beside themselves that later, no one could recall what next happened to them. It’s almost like they were teleported from the room into the public square, appearing for all the world like typical, scruffy Galileans, yet babbling on somehow with a language, or languages, that every foreigner present understood as his/her native tongue! It was like multiple, condensed tongues had been burned into each disciple, but every disciple was ‘heard,’ speaking eloquently in the native language of each one in the crowd. It was, for each festival attendee present, as if this strangely appealing, new message they were hearing was intended exclusively for them!
Pentecost 2022 seems like opportune timing for us to experience our own Holy Spirit refreshing. All we need to do is show up, pray, wait, and enjoy – the ‘formula’ is so simple! Ready?
See y’all tomorrow 10 AM, 4 PM, 6 PM. PD