Pentecost 2014


I've never visited St Michael's parish church in Linlithgow, but now I've seen this image of its stained glass window, I want to go there. It represents the Day of Pentecost story from Acts 2 and really does seem to convey the 'Wow' factor of that momentous occasion that gave birth to the infant church in Jerusalem 2000 years ago.
"When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability." (Acts 2: 1 - 4 NRSV)

The problem with hearing or reading a story like this, that is very familiar to Christians, can be that we freeze-frame it, box it in to a particular time and place and so not see how that story connects with our own stories. The beautiful coloured glass of this window is held securely in place with pieces of lead to create a beautiful picture that eventually will become ancient - a museum piece. We can do that with glass. We can similarly constrain and control old stories in our heads. What we cannot do is confine the Holy Spirit of God to a box, a cage of our own creating, even a 'holy' or religious cage. Foolishly, but often unconsciously, we can try. But meanwhile:
"She dances in fire, startling her spectators, 
waking tongues of ecstasy where dumbness reigned; 
she weans and inspires all whose hearts are open, 
nor can she be captured, silenced or restrained."
From the hymn, "She sits like a bird, brooding on the waters," by John Bell and Graham Maule

We can pray, 'come, Holy Spirit' and be confident that prayer will be answered, but it may not be in the way we might choose. S/he may blow us out of our comfort zones, bring changes and who knows what surprises.

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