This is my first post as part of a grid blog, in this case an attempt to get 120 bloggers around the world to post on the topic of Pentecost on May 15, 2005. somewhat less organized than a webring, I find I am not even asked to post links to the grid blogger who signed on immediately before me, or to the grid blogger who signed on immediately after me, but I expect each of them will have something insightful and inspiring to say.
Other than that, I am not sure what to expect from this experience. Synchronized yet decentralized, it may be something like the experience of the early church on that first Pentecost after the Resurrection, when the gift of the spirit was distributed upon all the believers, yet they all at the same time were telling what God had done. The story told in Acts 2 emphasizes the manifestation of the Spirit that prompted all the believers to speak in diverse languages that would be understood by the diverse crowd who surrounded them.
Bob Carlton wrote about the variety of ways Christians in different cultures have celebrated Pentecost. Here in Tarentum, at the church near Central Park there is a long-standing tradition of wearing red and bringing geraniums to church on Pentecost. All of the donated flowers will be planted around the church and some will end up in a planter here in Central Park, intended as a sign for months to come that the Church of Jesus Christ is afire with the Spirit. The geraniums certainly were bright and pretty last year. No one outside the church has told me that seeing the geraniums communicated the specific message the church intended, and in fact no one even asked me about the geraniums. Perhaps the colorful flowers speak to passers-by on a level deeper than words; at least I hope so. Does the Holy Spirit give people a gift of interpretation of flowers? Or is that too specific a descriptiion of what the Spirit does day by day in helping anyone to understand spiritual truths?
This is a picture I made for Pentecost as I meditated on the Acts 2 story in conjunction with the story of the giving of the Holy Spirit in John 20:19-22.
In John's story the Risen Christ appears to the disciples and simply breathes on them while telling them to receive the Holy Spirit. Although there is no description of a great sound, there is nevertheless a description of great power. The disciples are told "If you forgive the sins of any they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." (Who can forgive sins but God alone? ... The Son of Man has authority....) The community of Jesus' followers has authority to announce a message people need to hear, the message of forgiveness. I pray that, using different words in different languages, our lives may show forth the powerto forgive sins in the name of Jesus Christ.