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Setting fires

Sunday, June 4, 2006

Acts 2:1-11

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled their entire house.

Then there appeared to them tongues of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

There were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard the disciples speaking in his own language. They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, "Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language?

"We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God."

Red and yellow, black and white, we are precious in his sight. Jesus loves all the little children. We're all little children, he loves us all. If he loves us all, then that means he loves me. I might know that's true, but it doesn't settle down deep inside my soul like I want it to ... not when we don't seem to love each other that way ourselves, right here, right now.

Jesus said he did what his Father in heaven was doing, and he told us to do it too. I can't imagine anything more satisfying than following those instructions. Jesus also said, "I'll send the Holy Spirit." Then you'll have the power, the ability, the gift you need to actually do what I tell you to do.

Jesus knew better than anyone the difficulty we'd have, following those orders. He saw the demons that afflict us every step we take. He smelled them, probably. Certainly he talked to them. He was never under the illusion that we could follow his two "greatest commandments" on our own. Love God, love your neighbor as yourself? With all my heart I want to do those things. But it will not happen consistently without the power of God's spirit in me, protecting me from the evil that rules the world.

So that fire on Peter's head, I have to have that fire too. What an irony that water baptism brings the fire. The water might wash me clean, but the fire brings the power to be new.

Paul wrote fervently to the Thessalonians, "DO NOT PUT OUT THE SPIRIT'S FIRE." That fire burning is what brings the kingdom of heaven to the earth. That fire burning on my head gets me in. That fire burning makes all things new. That fire, that fire, that fire!

Gentle Jesus, wash me clean, still my anxious thoughts, and bring Holy Spirit fire to every moment of my life. Behold, you make all things new!

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