Spirit Aflame

Acts 2:1-21

When I worked in Mexico for a summer at a children’s home during my college years, I was fully immersed in Spanish night and day.  We were located up on the hillside in the low income area of the city.  I had one day off each week, and usually I would travel down to the resort area along the beaches so that I might just hear someone speaking English.  Just hearing it gave me a boost.  Hearing your most intimate language, the language you have known since you first began to speak, is a soothing, calming experience when you are in a place that you are not used to hearing your own language and your mind is always working on overdrive to listen and interpret what you are hearing around you.  I have seen it many times when I meet a native Spanish speaker here in the US.  When I can offer some words in Spanish to them, their face relaxes, and they are clearly more comfortable in conversation when they hear their most intimate language being spoken.

That is the feeling the Jews from many nations must have experienced when they heard their own languages being spoken in Jerusalem on that Pentecost day.  It was a pleasant shock.  “Oh, yes!  I understand completely!  This is comfortable.  This is good news.”  Remember that Peter and the other disciples are Jews speaking to other Jews who have gathered for the annual religious celebration called the Feast of Weeks, always held 50 days after Passover to mark the giving of the Torah and offering up first fruits to God.  In Greek it was called Pentecost, pente meaning 50.  This year Pentecost turned into something very different, an unexpected way for God to communicate with them. Continue reading “Spirit Aflame”

The Wildness of God (Easter Sunday)

Luke 24:1-12:  Have you ever stopped to really consider how wild God is? Raising the dead. Unheard of. Turning a funeral ritual into an evangelistic crusade. Out of this world. Using the mouths of women to proclaim God’s good news. Of all things. God seems to be taking a walk on the wild side here, a side so wild that the closest ones to Jesus have a hard time grabbing ahold of this new reality. They had heard the prediction about dying and rising straight from Jesus’ mouth, not once, but multiple times. But they never were able to internalize it, accept it, believe it could be true. Maybe they thought Jesus was just full of theological mumbo jumbo that went over their heads. Maybe they never could get past the idea that he would be taken from them and killed, so that blocked them from really hearing anything wild about what would come next. His predictions of the awful and the wonderful events to come went only as far as their eardrums– no penetration into the head and the heart. We all fall into a similar trap—we hear what we want to hear, and we block out what we can’t handle, especially in an emotionally charged conversation. Some things are just too wild for us to appropriate. Continue reading “The Wildness of God (Easter Sunday)”