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Holy Smoke

May 19, 2024 - Rev. Dr. Jan Remer-Osborn

Let us pray.

God of power, Through the words of this message today,
may the boldness of your Spirit transform us,
may the gentleness of your Spirit lead us,
may the gifts of your Spirit be our goal and our strength, now and always. Amen.

The disciples on Pentecost were all fired up.  Tongues of fire.  Speaking many languages.  I bet they found it hard to believe themselves.   Well, I have a burning question, “Why fire?”  What does this mean? Both to us now and those in biblical times?   Fire is a force of nature, can destroy our homes, our land, our lives.    Fire also has a mysterious, miraculous and holy quality.  We see this throughout the Bible.  God has an affinity, an attraction you might say to use fire as a tool, a way to get his message across. Fire reveals the presence of God  - the burning bush and Moses immediately come to mind.

It was a day like today, almost two thousand years ago.  A day we now refer as the birthday of the church, when:

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 2:2-4)

Jesus wanted to bring all the nations together.  On this Pentecost day the Holy Spirit brings fire that fosters communication and relationships. This fire burns away differences.  This fire burns away obstacles.  This fire is the breath, the wind of The Holy Spirit that brings the fruits of the Spirit - “ love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22)  This fire unifies.  This fire provides the gifts to preach, understand, and obey the word of God.   Whenever and wherever the Holy Spirit descends, it brings insight and knowledge – an understanding that results in bringing people closer to God. The Spirit unleashes our similarity, our commonality, and our unity.

Every Sunday we bring in light in the form of the flame on a candle to the altar in our sanctuary.  This symbolizes the entrance of Christ’s light into our church.  At the end, the flames are extinguished.  For now, the light of Jesus is now within you. You are tasked to bring his light into the world.

This is my prayer, that baptized in the Spirit, we will shine brightly with the light of Christ – we will rise up like the fireflies in the fields.  Let us be full of the fiery spirit of love, justice, mercy, and faithfulness for which Jesus so courageously lived, died and rose again. May it be so. Amen.

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