Saturday, May 22, 2010

We Didn't Start the Fire?

The fire of the Holy Spirit will always find a way to burn.

The thing is, it’s either going to burn in spite of us, or because of us.

That’s my Pentecost sermon this year. Reading the familiar Acts 2 story this year, here’s what came to mind. The Holy Spirit had a message to get to all those people, and it was going to be heard. God was not going to let a little thing like linguistic, ethnic, or national barriers get in the way.

Yes, the voice of the Holy Spirit will always find a way to be heard, and the question for us is will we be translators or inhibitors? It really doesn’t matter in the long run, of course. If God wants a message to get out, it WILL get out. I guess I’d rather choose to be a translator, if at all possible.

People are really, really good at categorizing one another, noticing our differences. Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. What gets us in trouble is when we take it too far, and make judgments based only on those categories, believing one category better than another in some way. Instead, I think those differences that we notice among one another are, in fact, exactly the way God wants things to be.

I say that in part because of this remarkable Pentecost story. In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit sees the differences among the people gathered, and neither pretends they are not there nor uses them to divide. In fact, it seems to me that the Holy Spirit speaks to the crowd through their differences, as if the diversity of nation, language, and ethnicity were themselves the language the Spirit used to speak.

The voice of the Holy Spirit WILL find a way to be heard. The fire of the Holy Spirit WILL find a way to burn. That’s not the issue here.

The issue for us is, are we going to resist it or help it along?

No comments: