The dramatic story in Acts, Chapter 2, that describes the birth of the Christian church is filled with lots of props that a movie director would love. Loud, swirling winds. Flames dancing on the heads of the disciples. People milling around, speaking in dozens of different languages. No wonder people accuse the disciples of being drunk so early in the morning!

As I have said before, the Bible is full of remarkable stories such as these, mirroring the spiritual experiences of our ancient foremothers and forefathers in the faith. For Christians, Pentecost marks the birthday of the church, however, it is affixed to a Jewish holiday, once again showing the deep affinity between the two faiths. Pentecost, from the Greek work denoting “fiftieth,” is used to describe the Hebrew Feast of Weeks (Shavuot), which takes place fifty days after Passover begins. Originally an agricultural festival marking the end of the wheat harvest, the day later came to commemorate the giving of the Torah (The first five books of the Old Testament) to Moses on Mount Sinai. To Christians, it now means the fiftieth day after Easter and the resurrection. (Kenneth C. Davis, The Bible, 2000).

Because of this story, many Christians, especially in the Pentecostal tradition, believe that “speaking in tongues” is the highest form of communication with God. This can be a bit disconcerting for those of us who experience God in somewhat less dramatic ways, nevertheless, “speaking in tongues” is an ecstatic experience of God embraced by some Christians today based on this story in Acts.

As with so many stories in the Bible, they should become personal for us. In other words, what does this story mean to you? I am not ever much concerned about whether the stories in the Bible actually happened “factually” in a particular way. To have to proclaim that stories in the Bible are “factually” true, takes away something special and deeply spiritual about them for me. The Pentecost story is about being changed and transformed. The Pentecost story is about shaking us out of our complacent ways of viewing the ministry of Jesus and demanding that we “burn” with a desire to transform the world, just as he did. That’s what this fantastical story means for me.

But the important question is this: “What does it mean for YOU?”

Pentecost Blessings! Linda