Windows into Heaven
June 8, 2014
When the day of Pentecost had come, the disciples 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.’ ”
The fiery Holy Spirit has lit on many heads over the centuries, blazing up brightly in some hearts and burning into a deep and persistent bed of coals in others. In some, the Spirit has produced the sheer holy boldness to confront and transform worldly injustice or to dream unimagined possibilities. Pentecost in many places means glorious music and exuberant additions to
the divine drama of worship‹kites and banners, balloons, and even birthday cakes! In some medieval cathedrals the reading of the great story of the tongues of fire was accompanied by showers of rose petals falling from tiny windows in the ceiling. As the spirit falls afresh on us, what are we receiving through that window into heaven? What fire is being lighted in you, what passion, what gift for transformation? How will that fire join with others to light up the world with possibility? The creative and mysterious gift of language is often a window for discovering the interrelatedness of many human tongues and the varied insights on the world they offer, like the fact that beloved and believe both have roots in what we give our hearts to. It works in Latin, too: credo is that which I give my heart to. Creed is not so much about wrapping our minds around impossible-sounding ideas as it is inviting the heart to let the Spirit work within. May the window open wide enough for a sparking spirit to set the tinder in our hearts alight.
-Katharine Jefferts Schori
What have you given your heart to this Easter season? Take a picture or tweet your credo with #credo
Presiding Bishop Schori’s reflection is from her contribution to Seeking God Day by Day, a collection of daily reflections and devotions. It is available for order from Forward Movement. Click here for more information.