by Joy Lenton
We’ve gathered together for the feast of Pentecost, like bewildered sheep who have lost their shepherd. An air of uncertainty hangs over us. A frisson of anxiety haunts our days and nights. What will happen next? Will the authorities come after us?
Jesus has ascended to heaven, left us feeling bereft even though He promised us His Peace and the gift of the Holy Spirit. But we’re unsure what that means for us. Meanwhile, we take comfort from one another as we reminisce about the good old days when He was still with us, and the great miracles we witnessed.
Tears and laughter mingle as we share our stories. It feels good to look back because looking forward is much scarier. We’ve already lost Judas and appointed Matthias in his place as one of the twelve disciple witnesses of our beloved Teacher and friend.
As I rub my beard and muse into my drink, there’s a sudden rushing noise outside. A strong wind or a violent storm seems to be developing. But wait a minute… it’s in the room we are in! How can it be? And oh my goodness, the place is on fire. It must have been struck by lightning!
However, as I anxiously search for the exit and check on those present, I realise these tongue-like flames are not burning anything. Instead, they settle over our heads like a benediction kiss. A warm glow develops inside, and euphoric joy rises in my heart and mind.
Our tongues loosen themselves into languages we are unfamiliar with, yet they appear to be understood by those listening outside. Some are awed and amazed to hear us simple Galilean fishermen speaking their own native tongue, while others are convinced we’ve become drunk.
We’re awestruck by these events but I somehow discover I have the courage, wisdom and words to speak to the gathering crowd and explain what is happening. As I speak, passages from Scripture resound in me with a deeper understanding than ever before.
Like tongues of fire
You came like licking tongues
of fire, alighting lightly,
mimicking a devastating
forest inferno that clears
the undergrowth, sweeps through
with great power and might,
makes way for new plants to grow.
But you swept into a room,
into tongues, minds and hearts,
filling them with power
as you cleared out the cobwebs
of fear and uncertainty,
made way for the new, the brave,
the strong, the hope-filled and free.
Oh Holy Spirit, how we need
you now to return in power,
fire up the fading embers
of our hearts, refuel us
inside with holy hope and joy,
increase our love for man and God
provide your wisdom and insight.
A Meditation Exercise:
Pause—linger a while—with open hands, open heart, and open mind.
Catch your breath—inhale the fragrance of Spirit—an unseen, invisible, yet immensely real presence.
Let it flow—right through your lungs—like liquid gold, filling and spilling, unlimited and uncontainable.
Hold it fast—so it can leak freely into your heart— beat strong, invincible, giving courage as your soul’s true North Star.
Exhale slowly—a holy wisp of wind—let it blow wherever and however it wishes to a place of hopeful, faith-filled waiting.
Begin again—gently inhale and exhale—until you find a releasing, an outpouring of joy and peace seeds in the mind.
* * *
Photo credit – both Pentecost images by Gerd Altmann @pixabay.com
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