Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tongues of Fire

John Bryant, Denver, N.C.

Like most field education students, my first Sunday at Salem United Methodist Church was Pentecost. I really appreciated how the church weaved several aspects of Pentecost into the service. The confirmation students officially joined the church on Sunday. Since we recognize Pentecost as the birth of the church, this makes a lot of sense. But I had not ever really stopped to consider putting the two elements together. I hope the youth recognized the significance of the timing but even if not, I found meaningful.

Part of the Pentecost service incorporated a dance by seven girls in the children and youth program at Salem. They had three banners, some ribbons, and two flags in the color of fire (red, orange, and yellow). The two flags were the most interesting part for me. At the end of the dance, two girls stood in the center aisle and waved the flags overhead. For a period of time the rippling of the flags was all you could hear. The routine gave me a real sense of the freedom and movement of fire which brought alive the story of Pentecost for me. The sight and sound of the flags rippling like tongues of fire above the heads of the congregation offered a glimpse of what that fateful day in Jerusalem might have looked like.

To all those students in field education placements this summer, to all those persons in their congregations, remember this. You can’t bottle the Holy Spirit or control it. It moves free like fire.

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