REIMAGINING PENTECOST

This upcoming Sunday is Pentecost.

All my life, I’ve heard teachings and sermons about Pentecost being symbolized by wind. Some churches even pull out big fans on Pentecost in an attempt to reenact the events of this liturgical holy day. We use this wind metaphor to imagine how the Spirit works…free, untamed, uncategorized, spontaneous. We might even reference Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in John chapter 3, saying (wrongly) “the Spirit blows as it pleases.”

Neither Acts nor John says this. Instead, what we find is the sound of wind.

Acts 2:2 – “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the house where they were sitting.”

John 3:8 – “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

Acts 2 doesn’t say anything about wind blowing…it only says that it sounded like wind was blowing. And Jesus uses wind as a metaphor – but not for the Spirit. He uses it as a metaphor for those born of the Spirit…that would be us.

Perhaps, in light of this, we should approach Pentecost a little differently. Instead of thinking about how the Spirit is "blowing" in our lives, maybe we should ask ourselves how people hear us. What do we sound like?

I’ve heard lots of sermons about how people of faith look (John 13:35; Philippians 2:15-16)…I’ve even heard sermons about smell (2 Corinthians 2:15) or taste (Psalm 34:8)…but I can’t think of the last time I heard someone suggest that we consider how we sound.

So, maybe this year we should think about how we are heard…

If we are people born of the Spirit, what do we sound like?

1 Corinthians 13:1 – “If I speak in human or angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”

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