“1On the day of PRIDE [Pentecost], all the Believers were meeting together in one place. 2Without warning, there was a sound like a mighty rushing wind-no one could tell where it came from. It filled the land of America [the entire house]. 3Then, [they saw] what looked like flames or fiery tongues moving in all directions, [the Holy Spirit’] spread through their ranks and settled on each of them. 4Filled with the Holy Spirit, everyone started speaking in other languages as the Spirit prompted them.”
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NOTHING BUT FIRE!
Beloved People of God,
These words paraphrase the opening of the second chapter of the Bible’s “Book of Acts“. They describe what is referred to as the “birthday” of the Church. One writer, however, cautions, “to see Pentecost merely as birthday smacks of oversentimentality“. Consequently, an even closer read reveals the first Pentecost launched radical transformation of a community from hopelessness into hopefulness – i.e., transcending narrow nationalistic and linguistic barriers they realized perfect communication and community. Most importantly, it was the descent of the Holy Spirit’s fireball that enabled early Believers to not only talk in diverse languages, but to breathe and ultimately live a message of God in the world. In other words, it was “Nothing but F.I.R.E.”
F.I.R.E. fittingly relates to “Pentecost”. After all, the world was set ablaze on that first Pentecost. A strange fire, a different kind of force, produced a distinctive fervor in the early Believers. This F.I.R.E. was a gift given to initiate and facilitate God’s work on earth. It gave them eyes to see, ears to hear and feet to move. Each found his or her own voice. And people finding their voice is one way God acts in the world. The Holy Spirit further demonstrated divine presence through additional signs of wind and speaking in different languages for one message only – i.e., God includes and calls all God’s people without barriers of age; gender; sexuality; education; social position; economics; race; or even religion. It’s “Nothing but F.I.R.E.“
So, in the context of the world’s homogenizing, market-driven culture insisting on re-creating human beings and the world in its own image, what does Pentecost mean for us today? Well,
“…think about these things…We can do all things through God who strengthens us” (Philippians 4:8,13).
Nothing’s changed much. God still works. Then, just like that first Pentecost, every day can be a small Pentecost once we recognize the Spirit in and among us. Liturgically, open ourselves to the descent of the Power of the Holy Spirit. Politically, use that transformative Power to convert hope to fulfillment through resistance so that decisions, both locally and nationally, do not remove guarantees of the right to live, love and marry in dignity but to also include legislative protections for people of Transgender experience. In New York State this means the passage of GENDA (Gender Expression Non -Discrimination Act). Socially, internalize that joy associated with the annual worldwide LGBT Pride Season and Festivities to become “Nothing but F.I.R.E. (Faith Inspired Resisting Empire)”.
Yours in Resistance…. Reverend Gale Jones, Executive Pastor