To those gathered in a room on the Day of Pentecost, Peter announces the inauguration of a new age, a transition marked by a mighty wind, by tongues of fire, and most important, by the gift of the Spirit. Peter promises that the Spirit will provide gifts of prophecy, dreams, and visions for all people. Though he does not describe the nature of the prophetic message, surely the Spirit will inspire dreams that align with the ministry of Jesus and visions that reflect the possibility of a world in which God’s love pervades every human interaction.
Prophetic dreams and visions are not future gifts. They are gifts for here and now. Not a once-and-for-all event in the room in Jerusalem, the Spirit comes again to the community in every age, inspiring visions that propose how current realities can be transformed by God through us. They do not project some distant reality; dreams and visions are exercises in truth-telling. They name where relationships and institutions fall short of the example of Jesus, and they call us to new fidelity to the gospel of love.
With gratitude for their counsel, I witness prophetic truth-tellers frequently. I see on television a young woman barely in her teens who takes on heads of state as she describes the devastation of our planet and demands change. A colleague calls me from my place of privilege as he tells of his harrowing journey as a teenager from Somalia to Minnesota, and then names the needs of the immigrant community in our city. I read an article from the pastor of my church in which he reminds me that in spite of what is happening around us, we are at once waiting and working for a world transformed.
O Giver of dreams and visions, open my heart to the Spirit’s leading so that I become emboldened to speak your truth in love to those who are in special need of it. Amen.
In preparing for Pentecost, we focus again on the work of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2 recounts the famous story in which the disciples are miraculously able to speak in other languages in order to preach to the crowds in Jerusalem. The psalmist states that God creates and renews creation through the Spirit. According to Paul, if we are led by God’s Spirit, the Spirit confirms that we are children of God. In the Gospel of John, Jesus promises to send the Helper, the Holy Spirit, who will teach us how to love him and to keep his commandments. In some branches of Christianity, fear of excess causes hesitation about the Holy Spirit; however, we must never forget that the Spirit is central to God’s redeeming work.
Read Acts 2:1-21. The miracle of Pentecost is not only in the multitude of languages but also in the act of listening. How can you experience worship in many languages or offer deep listening this Pentecost?
Read Psalm 104:24-34, 35b. How do you witness God’s experience woven through all of creation?
Read Romans 8:14-17. The author reminds us that spirit also means breath. When have you felt led by the breath of God?
Read John 14:8-17, 25-27. How has fear kept you from trusting God?
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