Sunday, May 27, 2007

Burning Down The House

"When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them..."
- Acts 2:1-4 (TNIV)

As we celebrate Pentecost 2007, the famous image of Jesus knocking at the door springs to mind. A reproduction of this famous painting can be found in many churches and in many devotional books. Christians, perhaps evangelical Wesleyans more than others, love the idea of Jesus knocking on the door of a person's heart, asking to be permitted entrance. With a theology based on Revelation 3:20, it is indeed a lovely image, a testament to prevenient grace.

But, on Pentecost, this image spurs other thoughts. For one thing, as Bishop William Willimon has noted, there is no doorknob on the outside; the people inside must open the door in order to answer the call of Jesus (that is certainly a very Wesleyan idea!).

More than that, it just could be that inside that door is not a sinner in need of salvation, but a Church in need of refocusing on her mission. Maybe...just maybe, mind you...it is the Day of Pentecost, and the fires of the Holy Spirit are filling the house. Fire can be warm and pretty, but can also be awfully destructive. Forest fires, which we typically dread, are actually a very normal part of nature's cycle of renewal; you need to burn away the old in order to get new growth.

It could be that Jesus is saying, "Hey, Church; the house is on fire! You'd better get out of there and come out here, with me!"

It could be that Jesus is imploring the Church to get out of the building and into the street, where the mission field can be found.

And so, we have another Pentecost to struggle with Jesus' call to allow the Holy Spirit to set us ablaze with the burning of renewal, and to open the doors of our hearts and our church buildings in order that we embark on the greatest, most important journey we know...the mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

May you be blessed with the Spirit of God on this Pentecost.

4 comments:

Eric said...

Thanks, Keith.

On this Pentecost Sunday, allow me to borrow the vocabulary of one Johnny Storm:

"Flame on!"

Roda Zone said...

Keith...I once preached a Pentecost sermon entitled "Hey! Our Cross Is On Fire." You just made me remember that for some reason. I hope the spirit was moving for you today as you led your church on this blazing day.

Brendan said...

I appreciate the attention you pay to this VERY important day on the Christian calendar!

Brett Probert said...

When is Pentecost? Oh, and what is Pentecost?