Christian churches around the world will gather this weekend to celebrate the Festival of Pentecost. Pentecost is the day that we celebrate the gift of God’s Holy Spirit to the people of God, who were drawn together to form Christ’s church.
That first Pentecost was not a quiet event. Inside a house filled with people, the wind suddenly blew, flames appeared over people’s heads and the wild discord of voices in different languages filled the air. The Spirit was present. The Spirit was at work.
2,000 years later, the Spirit is still at work. The Greek word used for Holy Spirit is most often translated as “advocate.” But that word sometimes feels kind of impersonal, or sterile. Other words that can be used include comforter, helper, teacher, guide, intercessor, companion, and healer.
Sometimes we focus so much on “who” the Spirit is, as a member of the Holy Trinity, that we forget to think about what the Holy Spirit does:
- Every day the Spirit is present with us
- Every day the Spirit is alongside us
- Every day the Spirit nudges us
- Every day the Spirit inspires us
- Every day the Spirit calls us into action
- Every day the Spirit comforts us.
- Every day.
And it is God’s Holy Spirit that motivates us to care for our neighbor. We do not have to look very far in our community to see children who are hungry, families without homes, elderly friends who must decide whether to pay for their prescription or buy groceries.
Every day, the Holy Spirit asks us to act with compassion, grace, and love to care for those in our need. Yes, with our financial gifts, but even more with our time and energy. In that story of the first Pentecost, the Holy Spirit broke down barriers. The scriptures tell us that when those early followers of Jesus began to speak in different languages, others in the neighborhood who had come from different nations heard the ruckus and came to see what was happening. And they were bewildered, “because each one heard their own language being spoken.”
Their own language was being spoken.
When the Holy Spirit is loose, strange, unpredictable, and powerful things happen. God goes to work.
The Holy Spirit is loose, and at work in Owatonna. What is God up to? It’s hard to say. But as people who follow Jesus, we get to be a part of it. We get to partner with the Holy Spirit in feeding the hungry, caring for the vulnerable and welcoming the stranger. This is our role. This is our call.
Now step back and look…the Holy Spirit is up to something here. Every day.
This article originally appeared in the “Pastor’s Perspective” column of the Owatonna People’s Press, May 22, 2021.