12 May Pentecostal Power
This Sunday is Pentecost which is the day each year that the Church celebrates the Holy Spirit, that third and often misunderstood member of “the Trinity.” In my church, as in many liturgical churches, we will celebrate Pentecost by wearing something red. I like the color red and I don’t really need a special excuse to put on a red dress, but it is fun all the same. We wear red because when the Holy Spirit was first given to the church, it came as “tongues [or flames] of fire,” according to Acts, chapter 2.
The Holy Spirit is associated with God’s power, and I could really use a little Pentecostal power right about now. In his seminal work, The Road Less Traveled, Dr. Scott Peck began the book with the words, “Life is difficult.” In his book Further Along the Road Less Traveled, Dr. Peck added a second great truth: “Life is complex.” He was (and is) right on both counts.
Generally speaking, I am a “glass half full” kind of person. I am upbeat and energetic, positive and hopeful. But, sometimes none of that is enough. Life can really beat us up. People we love get sick or die. We experience criticism or betrayal. We lose a job or a relationship. Care-giving responsibilities wear us down, and there is no one else to do the job. Sometimes, it’s not even “life and death” issues that weigh on us. It’s simply that “life happens,” as one of my friends experienced. She spelled it out in an email:
In the last three days….
Son #1 contracted a horrific bacteria from the pool and broke out into what looked like leprosy. Here we are: 6 doctor visits, 4 pharmacy trips, and 1 blood draw later….
Son #2 got attacked by a dog at the town center and got his hand torn up.
Son #3 got a tick on his private parts.
The dryer broke.
Hubby crunched the neighbor’s car.
Beloved reader, I’m not making this up.
Through the years I’ve learned some questions to ask in the midst of trying times that may not ease the pain immediately, but they do give me perspective and comfort. Where is God in this situation? What graces am I experiencing? Are there ways in which God might be inviting me to see or learn something new? How might I embrace this opportunity to grow? These questions presuppose that God is, in fact, present and involved which is a core truth that I settled within my own heart many years ago. I trust that God is working at all times, in all places, in all circumstances, even when I can’t see or understand it.
Pentecost reminds me that God is not just a limp bystander to the travails of this life. Jesus is the absolute rejection of any notion that God simply wound up the world and let us go, leaving us to figure things out and fend for ourselves. Jesus’ entire life is a testimony to God’s love for us and involvement with us. Jesus told us that after he left, the Holy Spirit would come to be with us, to remind us of God’s truth and to give us power to live as Christ’s disciples.
So, when life is hard, remember that you are not alone. When you feel worn down and fatigued, remember that the Spirit is your Advocate and Comforter. When stress seems to be bearing down from all sides, remember that God hears every cry, even the silent ones, and sees every tear, and feels every grief. I have discovered that God’s grace is indeed sufficient, moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day. My prayer is that you will know the power and grace of God’s Spirit as well.
Yours for the Kingdom,