2:1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2:2 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.
2:3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 2:4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
I do not remember a specific Pentecost tradition growing up in my Lutheran church, maybe as German Lutherans we were too stoic to get excited about the Spirit. Or maybe like so many mainline protestant churches we can’t get a grip on that darn Spirit, it blows were it will I’ve read. At any rate several years ago the church I was called to decided that Pentecost should be celebrate as the high holiday it is, the birth of the church! We had geraniums everywhere, who knew that was the Pentecost flower! And as years went by we had fire bowls in church, clanging cymbals, the Lord’s prayer in different languages spoken all at the same time, wind and red everywhere! It was full out energy, almost as Pentecostal as Lutherans get! Now don’t get me wrong, I am all about energy, I have earned the nickname the energizer bunny in history, but this year the energy of Pentecost simply exhausted me. I longed for and sought a softer Spirit to celebrate that God was up to something…
As I sat pondering what was up with my mood, I flashed back to a sermon by Nadia Bolz Weber at the 2017 Festival of Homiletics. Nadia is a Lutheran pastor who is known for her ability to name and tap into our raw human vulnerabilities, I have always admired her direct nature. This year when she spoke she had all the passion of previous engagements but she was somehow, noticeably more reserved. As she opened her sermon she said that this year she gotten softer. She gave many examples of what she meant by getting softer but the one that caught my attention was when she, an avid Crossfit person, said she had taken up yoga. I have followed her for years and knew what a shift this was for her. When during Q & A she was asked why the switch from Crossfit to yoga, she simply said, “I was tired of my body being in pain all the time.”
Maybe that is what is going with me this Pentecost, maybe I tired of all the pain lately. Maybe the violence, raw language we have been subjected has taken a toll. Maybe my body, mind and spirit are in pain over our world’s unstable nature, our community’s divisive postures. Maybe the pain is as deep as witnessing the church being hijacked by folks who look nothing like Jesus’ idea of churches, now when we need the church more than ever to witness to Jesus, on the churches birthday no less! Maybe I’m just looking for a softer Spirit this year. A whisper instead of a violent wind, a candle instead of fire and more people listening to each other than all speaking at once. Maybe it’s just me, but that is what I celebrate when I come to my yoga practice, that the Spirit has a softer side, that when I am still I become more aware of, in tune with the Spirit. The softer Spirit is as powerful and as strong as the energy driven Spirit let loose in our story from Acts. The softer Spirit speaks to us in gentle tones that remind us the world, community and church are all under God’s loving providence. The pain we may feel in body, mind and/or spirit is healed by God’s promises and presence. We hear that in our faith and yoga practices when we get quiet, we hear the Spirit whisper…it’s ok to be softer.