Pentecost: The Coming of the Holy Spirit
Pentecost was a feast day celebrating the harvest and the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai. Jews from throughout the known world gathered in Jerusalem for this annual festival. The timing was about seven weeks after the resurrection for the disciples of Jesus. It was in the morning before nine o’clock when the Holy Spirit came. The coming was announced with a mighty wind, tongues of fire and the people’s ability to speak in various languages. None of the feelings of the believers is recorded in Acts, but it is noted that the crowds were amazed and astonished to hear the disciples speaking in the many languages. The coming of the Holy Spirit that day fulfilled the prophecy of Joel and the promise of Jesus just before his ascension. The Spirit gave power to this group of believers – a power that enabled them to bear witness to the teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus.
In Pentecost the barriers that separate people were overcome. The barrier of language differences disappeared. The barrier of isolation caused by fear disappeared. The barrier of education and experience disappeared. The followers of Jesus were able to talk with, preach to and mix with the variety of Jews present in the city that day. Remember that most of the disciples were uneducated and economically poor. The Holy Spirit overcame the barriers of class and nationality, giving to each the power to share the Gospel story.
The Holy Spirit is in our world today. The Spirit is still free and flexible. The Spirit can overcome barriers of class, race, sexual orientation, religion, economics, immigration status, nationality, etc. The Spirit is available to individuals and to groups of people, even to entire communities and nations. The Spirit can make the followers of the Christ bold in their witness. What’s preventing such power to come to each of us this Penteco
*Perhaps we are not open to the Spirit. It is easier not to change and the Spirit does stir things up. If the walls we or the Church have erected are too high or too strong, even the Holy Spirit will have a hard time penetrating our closed minds and hearts.
*Perhaps we are unwilling to recognize the work of the Spirit in our world. God’s purposes may not be ours, and sometimes God works in strange and mysterious ways. To discern such takes concentration, prayer, and the willingness to listen and respond to God.
*Perhaps we are only looking for the extraordinary presence of the Spirit. God’s Spirit is not always the wind or the fire, but often “the still small voice: that is within each of us. Listen and look carefully at the ordinary for it just might be the presence of the Holy.
*Perhaps we are overcome with difficulties of the world and are afraid to tackle any of them. The Holy Spirit comes to each of us to give us the power to do what we can do and provides the resources to our contributions to the world in need.
Let us open our hearts, our minds to the Holy Spirit. Let us be receptive to the Spirit in our midst. Brian Wren in his hymn “There’s a Spirit in the Air” says it well:
“There’s a Spirit in the air, telling Christians everywhere:
Praise the love that Christ revealed, living, working, in our world.
May the Spirit fill our praise, guide our thoughts and change our ways:
God in Christ has come to stay. Live tomorrow’s life today!”
Joyce D. Sohl, Laywoman-in-Residence
Joyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, quarterly retreats, and art exhibits.