Each year as Pentecost rolls around on the church calendar I try to ensure that we do our best in worship to embrace the day. The account of the coming of the Holy Spirit to the church is a powerful story about how the Spirit worked in the past as well as today. In more docile traditions of Christianity, of which Presbyterians are part of, the Holy Spirit has not always been given the attention it deserves.
For many the Holy Spirit may even be something that they have a fear of. One popular conception of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit is the “Holy Roller” on the ground, shaking with convulsions, having been seized by the Holy Spirit. Even a peripheral experience of this type of experience can strike fear into the most firm of a believer. Fear also comes from the fact that when we read Scripture, we continually read of Holy Spirit experiences that cause trouble for the one interacting with the Spirit. People who are in the midst of a Holy Spirit experience have their lives changed and often are given a new mission from God. Continue reading →
This past Sunday we celebrated Pentecost. Often we tout Pentecost as the “birthday of the church.” This is a great image and an easy way to connect kids with the concept that the coming of the Holy Spirit marked a special event in the life of those who follow Christ. On the other hand, this birthday image can fall short. There is more to Pentecost than what our contemporary birthday celebrations mean.
I have heard more than one person say at the occasion of a birthday, “Congratulations, you survived another year.” Birthdays mark a chronological advancement, but Pentecost is more than the fact that the Church has made it through another year of Christmas, Easter, Sunday School and all the rest of the things we do in our life together. Continue reading →