Word of the Week

The Fires of Pentecost

Pentecost Sunday. Our world certainly looks differently than last week, doesn't it?

Not only have 100,000+ lives been lost to Covid-19 but yet again another unarmed black man in Minnesota has died because a police officer had his knee on his neck.

If your social media feed is anything like mine, it's full of rage, anger, tears, disappointment and laments of "How long O, Lord?" THIS MUST STOP.

Then, this weekend, the streets in Chicago, Dallas, my home base in Washington, DC and beyond have filled with protesters. In Atlanta on Friday night, i watched protesters ignite a police car in flames.

And I could think of no better word on a week like this to offer than fire.

Fire has several definitions but here are a few of my favorite:

  • the hot, bright flames produced by things that are burning
  • a burning sensation in the body
  • strong criticism or antagonism

Cities and their citizens all across America are erupting in fire right now. What can we learn?

This Sunday, the text I'm preaching on at my church is all about fire. We're celebrating the birth of the church and the gift of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost-- the day when a fresh wind blew from heaven like fire.

It's a metaphor I've had trouble wrapping my head around in previous years on Pentecost day, but not today.

For when there is a fire: we all stop and take notice. You can't unsee it. You can't pretend it never happened. You smell it. You taste it. You hear it burn.

Fire electrifies. Fire projects. Fire eventually refines.

Ashes tell you that you must rebuild from a fire -- from the ground up.

A new foundation must be laid.

There is no going back to the old way after a fire.

And today, the fire has brought to our attention yet again that racism in America is a 400 year+ sin dating back to the arrival of the first Europeans.

And in this recollection, we've been given a call to rebuild after the fire.

Today, my white friends, we must begin again.

But "how?" so many of us are asking. "What can I do?"

These are questions I'd love for you to spend some time thinking about this week especially if you are white. And if you my white friends, need some help getting started, I'd love to suggest this resource or this one too.

May the fire of God's Spirit be upon you this week as you move and learn.

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