There are a million things I want to write about right now. So much is going on, it is hard to narrow down where to begin. But I want to focus on the Pentecost and what it has come to mean to me. This past Sunday was Pentecost Sunday, and the first time I have observed it. It was amazing to be a witness at a church that recognized the Pentecost at a time I really wanted to talk about it in worship. Not for show or made up charisma, we stayed Wilshire, as we should! But dressing in red and acknowledging something out of the ordinary happened to the apostles, and the Holy Spirit was very much involved, and we believe it can happen again and is happening again, was a soul-filling experience for me.
I was completely unfamiliar with the Pentecost until I went through my dark night and started listening to and reading everything I could. It became evident I was drawn to Pentecostals – in particular Jonathan Martin, Brian Zahnd, Carlos Rodriguez, Cheryl Bridges Johns, and Reverend Barber. I actually did not know Reverend Barber was Pentecostal until I went to the InterFaith Shabbat with Wilshire at Temple Emanu-El. (Interfaith is also a new passion of mine, but that is a separate post). When Reverend Barber shared that he was Pentecostal, my thought was: “Of course you are! That is why I found you.”
I was drawn to the Pentecostal preachers because the Holy Spirit was the piece of the puzzle I did not understand regarding my faith. I will not say I understand the Holy Spirit now, but listening to Pentecostals has allowed me to glimpse the Spirit’s work a lot more often now. The Holy Spirit breathed life back into me when I was done. I wanted to throw in the towel because everything seemed too much, but I wanted to know what was going on. Carlos Rodriguez explained Psalms 23:2 in a whole new way for me, ” He causes me to lie down in pastures of green grass; he guides me beside quiet waters.” He said if you are tired get some rest. God may be having you lie down and be quiet for a time. So I did. And now I will never be the same.
During my time of rest I listened, and I was reminded that we can learn from each other. Christine Caine said this, “No one stream of the church is strong in all areas. This is precisely why we need each other. If we would only humble ourselves enough to learn from one another we would move forward in strength, instead of continuing to circle the same old mountains. We are better together.” This is exactly what I found when I started listening to all faiths, people not of faith, people of color, LGBTQ, women, men, etc. When I was ready to get up from my rest, I felt a new energy, and a new kind of love for the world. Despite all the horrible things that are happening, I have experienced and seen something better and I can’t give up on it. The Holy Spirit is here again-let us not miss what is happening.
Chris Green, Associate Professor of Theology at Pentecostal Seminary, had an amazing video I listened to a while back describing the Pentecostal movement. Here are somethings I jotted down after listening: Pentecostals identified early on as a movement to live with a Living God always on the move. God is nomadic, restless–Look where the church is restless, that is where God is at work. But once you take pride in a movement, it is no longer a movement, it is a monument. Remembering the way we used to live, but not living the way we used to live. Triggered by nostalgia instead of being triggered by hope is a dead give away a movement is now a monument. The mark of a living God, he surprises us. An idol will never surprise us. God is faithful, but not predictable.
I love all of this. I honestly think a Pentecostal movement is needed in every church, but with caution. When I started learning more about the Pentecostal movement, I heard the crazy side of it too. We all have some recovering to do and anything good can be misused by an immature person. The gospel is misused all the time. But waking the movement of the Holy Spirit is a gift from the Pentecostals that I am so grateful for.
I am quoting a lot of people today because this is not my heritage. I am going to use the wisdom of those in the Pentecostal movement who can help teach us. This quote by Cheryl Bridges Johns is a good quote to wrap this post up. “I fear people desire the power of Pentecost as an added boost of charisma or an expansion of influence. Pentecost is the power to suffer much, love beyond measure, and bear the world’s burdens.”