"Suddenly from heaven came a sound like the rush of a violent wind. Divided tongues, as of fire, rested on each of them. And all were filled with the Holy Spirit." - Acts 2:2-4
The Spirit's arrival that first Pentecost was really raucous. Ever since, some Christians have insisted that you don't have the Spirit if you don't feel the Spirit, if you're not moved. Ecstatic dances, speaking in tongues, powerful experiences—these are the Spirit's signs.
But many of the church's most magnificent saints never had their hair set on fire by God. And plenty of churches ooze with the Spirit, yet their neighbors have never called 911 to report a disturbance.
It's not "powerful experience" that counts as Pentecostal, but a courageous, persevering life—a life staked on the graceful conviction that when God promises, "I'm here, I'm enough for you, with me all things are possible," God means what God says. What's important about Pentecost isn't the shakes, but this blessed assurance, true in high winds and bright flames, true when fire flickers and wind dies away, true whether you feel it or not.
So don't worry if no one's having holy hot flashes in your church. Worry if there's a lack of confidence in God. Worry about all the ways we huddle back into frightened small-mindedness when experience fails, fervor fades, and we lose the hope of things unseen.
Worry if no curious crowd ever gathers, not because of the racket we're making, but because of the attraction of a faith that dares.
Courage and grace, Holy Spirit! Come upon us with courage and grace! All we desire, and enough for us. Amen.
Mary Luti is Interim Senior Pastor, Wellesley Village Church, Wellesley, Massachusetts.