Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Preparing for Pentecost

Bookgirl has a great post where she talks about Pentecost and the fact that she'll miss this holy day at church because she'll be at a different festival:  she's graduating!  Congrats, Bookgirl!

What leapt out at me is how much disappointment she feels about missing what her church is planning.  She links to this piece, which describes a fun-sounding day with silks and dyes and color.  I can imagine all sorts of ways to use those silks to remind us of the presence of the Holy Spirit.

I feel a bit jealous.  I always want to like Pentecost, but I often don't.  I've puzzled over why this should be so.  In my essay for The Lutheran (May 2011), I wrote: 

"Maybe it’s the plotline of the story: those early believers, filled with a force they didn’t understand, speaking languages that they couldn’t know. Those of us who are control freaks by nature likely feel deeply uncomfortable at the prospect.

Pentecost is the holiday designed for discomfort, a celebration that should stir us to get up off the couch to go out and do great things. We learn about Pentecost in the book of Acts, after all, not the book of Sleeping Late. Perhaps that’s why so many of us approach Pentecost with a bit of apprehension. Throughout church history, we’ve seen what the presence of the Holy Spirit can do, even in the most improbable settings."

Pentecost is a holiday with imagery of wind and flame, and I wonder how preachers across the country will approach these symbols, in a season where wind and flame have wreaked so much damage.

Our church, like many others, will be confirming teenagers.  I'm deeply ambivalent about this process.  I understand why we do it.  But I also think that teenagers are much too young to commit to anything, whether it be Christianity or a career or safe driving. 
I also remember from childhood that long season after Pentecost (the boring green season, I called it then), with no interesting holidays, no changes in color or decoration, Christmas so far away.  The church of my childhood didn't do a very good job of explaining the significance of Pentecost.
Here's how I explained it in the conclusion of my essay for The Lutheran"God became incarnate to prepare humans to carry on the work of Kingdom creation.  And Pentecost reminds us of our job description, to let the Holy Spirit blow into our hollowed out spaces and to fill us with the fire to dream and the resources to bring our visions to life."

1 comment:

Wendy said...

You always make me think. I struggle with the action part. I want to hear the Spirit, but then, I suppose there is that going out part. Hmmm.

Anyway, thanks for the shout-out and the link to Candy's post, too. --Bookgirl