Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. Acts of the Apostles 2:3
Please tell me that you are on fire to do more than return to the gym or get a mani-pedi.
Although many of us are Zoom-weary and have Politics Fatigue, there are fires everywhere that deserve our attention. My hope as a Christian is that those of us who take Jesus seriously are on fire ourselves: burning hearts, flaming tongues. This is the imagery of Pentecost.
Pentecost Sunday is ignored by many devout Christians and I’m not sure why. Our culture doesn’t recognize it as a Hallmark Holiday. A quick review of upcoming sermons at the largest independent churches near me seem to indicate that Acts 2 will not be the lesson for this Sunday in spite of the liturgical calendar (because those churches are not particularly liturgical?)
The world is on fire, so why aren’t we?
Where I live there are plans to discuss voter rights in a weekend Zoom Call. There is a virtual interfaith vigil on Monday to lament, mourn, and honor the 100,000+ who have died from COVID-19. There are online gatherings to confess the sins of systemic racism as demonstrated most recently by the death of George Floyd and the 911 call by Amy Cooper.
And then there’s Pentecost Sunday. Can we who claim to be followers of Jesus go about our usual schedules without stopping to consider why or why not we are experiencing the fire of the Holy Spirit?
What are we on fire about today? The release of new music? The Dow? The unemployment rate? Ahmaud Arbery? The 2020 election? Running out of flour?
God has called each of us to love our neighbors. Which neighbors are we on fire to love today? And how will we love them?
It’s not a rhetorical question.
I pressed the LIKE button, wishing there was a LOVE button. This is just what I’m feeling today. I’m feeling, here in Fresno, that all the people care about is getting their hair cut, going to their church building, then going out to eat. They see it as a return to normal. I see it as a cry to God that we have come to this. When churches are more concerned about where they will get their waffle brunch after leaving the church building than what is happening to their neighbors, then we are not on fire. We are not even lukewarm.
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I am so inspired by the interfaith work of MeckMIN in Charlotte. As I sat in on the weekly Zoom meeting with area faith leaders (of many traditions) and community agencies coordinating efforts to meet the needs of the least of these, amplified during this COVID-era, I thought, “if these were ‘normal’ times, I have unfortunate doubts that over 60 such folks would gather each and every week as they are now doing.” Sure, there would possibly be 60 or even 100 leaders participating, but actually showing up… probably a handful or 2 each week. This does inspire me. The meetings are not entertaining or exciting; in fact, sometimes they seem to drudge. But the work being accomplished because of the collaboration of efforts – not stepping on one another’s toes nor disregarding what others are doing – is nothing less than that of the fire of the Holy Spirit. Yes, I am on fire to do more – to do much, much more, to BE more. But then I try to cede to the Spirit who will lead me when and where I can do my little part. I believe (in this fire of the Holy Spirit); help my unbelief (my impatience).
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the pandemic has brought us to a point of slowing down, and I like that. It has given me time to think, pray, reflect, pray, and then think and reflect again. In times gone by, I would pray but rarely reflect on what I thought God was doing with those prayers.