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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Acts 2:1–21

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’” (NRSV)

The story of Pentecost makes me long for the Holy Spirit to be present in our world the way it was back then. What an incredible gift for both the disciples and the crowd to experience God’s presence in such a powerful way.

Although I’ve never experienced the Holy Spirit as intensely, I find that if I’m open to experiencing it in other ways, I don’t have to look far to see, hear, or feel it. I see the Spirit move in the unexplainable actions of others that answer prayers. I hear the Spirit in the words of a friend or in a sermon telling me exactly what I need to hear. I feel the Spirit when I’m sad, lonely, or anxious and have no words to pray other than “Come, Holy Spirit” and gradually feel God’s love and peace fill my heart and soul.

I still want to experience the Holy Spirit the way the disciples did on Pentecost. I can’t think of a more life-changing experience. But I’m also challenging myself to appreciate those little moments that gently remind me that God’s gift of the Holy Spirit to us was not for a finite period of time and comes to us in ways other than tongues of fire.

I am so grateful, God, for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Open my eyes to see, my ears to hear, and my heart to feel the presence of your Spirit in my life. May your Spirit work in and through me so that all I say and all I do is a reflection of your deep, abiding love for your children. Amen.

Written by Nicole Spirgen, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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