On the day of Pentecost, as the Spirit descends upon the gathered assembly, we see with dramatic clarity how the knowing that Christ gives us is not for ourselves alone: it is for the life of the community and the life of the world. As on Pentecost, when those who spoke in the Spirit did not recognise what they were saying but could be understood by others in the crowd, our knowing and understanding are always incomplete without the presence of community.
The incompleteness of our knowing comes as its own reminder of what dusty disciples we are. Made of common earth, fashioned of ordinary matter, we are called to a humus-born humility that cautions us against acting like we have all the answers and know all of God’s designs for creation.
Yet the story of Pentecost bids us to remember what the Spirit can do with dust. Pentecost reminds us that the Spirit draws us together and gives us to one another so that we may hear and see and know with greater clarity. This day challenges us to open ourselves beyond the limits of our individual lives to the Spirit who sets us ablaze for the healing of the world.
On the day when you are wearing
your certainty like a cloak
and your sureness goes before you
like a shield or like a sword,
may the sound of God’s name
spill from your lips as you have never
heard it before.
May your knowing be undone.
May mystery confound your
May the Divine rain down
in strange syllables
yet with an ancient familiarity,
a knowing borne in the blood,
the ear, the tongue,
bringing the clarity that comes
not in stone or in steel
but in fire, in flame.
May there come one searing word:
enough to bare you to the bone,
enough to set your heart ablaze,
enough to make you whole again.
~ Jan Richardson
(This is an extract from a writing by Jan Richardson – ‘One Searing Word’).