When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4 ESV
As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Luke 3:15-17 ESV
Have you heard the fairy tale, “Beauty and the Beast?” A handsome prince was enchanted by an evil witch to become an ugly, frightening beast, and the enchantment would last until some young woman promised to marry him. Beauty came to stay at his castle after her father stole a rose from the Beast, and in time she came to love the kind person inside the horrible beast, and promised to marry him. When she did, the Beast became a handsome prince again. At the moment the enchantment was broken, there were amazing fireworks bursting in the air and lighting up the evening sky. The fireworks showed that something wonderful had happened, and the old things had become new and lovely again.
Jesus’ followers had been staying together in Jerusalem since Jesus’ ascension. Jesus had told them to stay there and to wait until he would send them the Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost, the day the Jewish people were celebrating the Feast of Weeks for the early harvest, suddenly the God the Holy Spirit came. He came in a rush of mighty wind which filled the place everyone had gathered, and flames of fire came and rested on the head of each follower of Jesus. The wind and the fire were signs that something wonderful was happening. The Holy Spirit had come to begin new things and to give power to his people to spread the good news of Jesus.
Sometimes God comes with awesome signs like wind and fire and earthquakes and thunder. He showed signs like these when he came to Mt. Sinai to give the law to the people of Israel, and also at the end of Good Friday and on Easter morning. But most of the time, God comes in quiet, ordinary ways. He was born in Bethlehem as an ordinary baby, and he comes to us, not with wind and fire, but in his word and in the waters of Baptism. When we hear God’s word and are baptized, God the Holy Spirit comes to us also. Just as he helped Jesus’ first disciples, he gives us the ability to trust in Jesus and the power to share our faith with others.
Dear Holy Spirit, thank you for coming to us and making us God’s people. Please help us to be strong witnesses for Jesus, our Savior. Amen.