On cool, crisp evenings, our family often builds a small fire in our fire pit to roast s’mores. On cold, dreary mornings, you can find us in our den with the gas logs flaming. There’s nothing quite like a good fire.
And by good, I mean comfortable. Roasting s’mores or turning on gas logs provides comfort as long as we maintain a dedicated distance and follow necessary safety precautions. Assuming we’re in control of it, “there’s nothing like a good fire.”
What scares us is when a fire gets out of hand. A loosed fire is anything but comfortable. Its wild nature grows dangerous, as we’ve seen in news stories about uncontrollable wildfires in the western US. So, given our experiences with fire, how will we approach today’s story of the first Pentecost? How close should we get to this account and what it might mean for today’s church?
Many of us want our religion to feel as comfortable as gas logs on a cold morning. We maintain so many rules and boundaries to ensure our safety that sometimes that seems to be our sole focus. But should safety be the church’s primary goal?
The earliest Christians learned on Pentecost that while God’s Spirit cannot be controlled, it gives life rather than destroys it. When we try to limit where God’s Spirit might burn, we fail to see and celebrate how God unleashes the Spirit so the world will experience new life.
May this be the day we put down the poker stick and stop trying to control the gift of God’s life-saving warmth. May we start helping the world understand the new life God unleashes among us. Let us recognize the yearning for truth that burns within us and name its source. This is God’s Spirit, which is anything but controlled.
In what ways do you try to tame or control God’s Spirit? What would it look like to let it loose?
God, teach me to see and celebrate the Spirit’s presence in the world. Amen.