Chapter & verse: Acts 2:1-21
John Proctor asks if Pentecost rings any bells
Bells are about the only sound missing on the Day of Pentecost. Yet, the chapter rings many a bell. It resonates with a host of hopes and encounters from elsewhere in the Bible. It brings old stories back to life, with new energy and direction. It blows the sails of Scripture into open water. It is familiar, yet wonderfully fresh.
The rushing mighty wind breathes the scent of creation, of the Spirit of God moving out of void and darkness and beckoning a world into life and beauty (Genesis 1). At Pentecost, God the maker is reshaping the story of earth.
Flames that gleam and glow but do not scorch or scar recall the bush in the wilderness. It was burning but not consumed (Exodus 3). And again at Pentecost, the God who speaks in the desert, who summons people from the margins of life to be signs of hope in the face of hardship and hurt – this God is stirring once more, with a flame that speaks of mystery, presence and promise.
What of tongues? Remember when the Tower of Babel stood to the sky, blazoned with slogans of human pride, and suddenly people realised that in reaching for heaven they had forgotten how to speak as neighbours (Genesis 11)? Pentecost is like Babel in reverse. Heaven comes down. Speech is possible in new and unexpected ways. New words are given for communication, for care, for contact and community…
John Proctor is General Secretary of the United Reformed Church
This is an extract from the May 2016 edition of Reform.