Pentecost, without Fire?

The images of fire-filled Fort McMurray
remain close to us as we near Pentecost.

With pastoral sensitivity, and out of kindness,
some have suggested setting aside fire imagery
and holding up other Pentecost images.

I tried to.

I sat with the Pentecost-as-Breath story in John 20:19-22
and practiced the Prayer-of-the-Breath.

Like this:
Be still. Let your breath take you deep into the quiet centre of your being. As you breathe feel your heart expand. Breathe in peace. Breathe out whatever has a hold on your being present, right here and right now.

I also love the part of the Acts story with the fascinating babble of voices. (Acts 2:5-12)
The disciples were scattered, fragmented, unconnected and dis-spirited.
And then, something about this Jesus-Rising set off re-creation.
Those with ears to hear could distinguish a new sound of harmony.

It was powerful.
It drove them into the streets.
It changed everything.
“They went out into all the world to tell the story.
                              (Godly Play story “The Mystery of Pentecost”)

Pentecost re-ignites our desire for one-ness.
It is our non-dualistic vision,
refusing to separate,
inviting gathering, unity, connection, and hope.
And we so need this Pentecost of leaning into one-ness.

THEN,  I read this article.

And, all I want to talk about this Pentecost is Fire Beetles.
They come where fire has been.
They seek to restore.
They are  “shimmering like little jewels on these black-burned trees, laying their eggs and doing their thing.”

They “help turn deadwood back into soil, allowing seedlings to return to the landscape in a matter of months. Research shows that if the insects aren’t there to chew their way through the blackened logs, the burned landscape remains stagnant for much longer.”

Surely this is the Mystery of Pentecost;
the mystery of renewal,
the new life out of ash.
This is the work, not just of beetles, but of human compassion.

Come, Holy Spirit,
Come as a fire beetle.


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  1. Thank you Janice. Wonderful reflection …. might find its way into my sermon on Sunday. Thanks for your gifts of image and words.

  2. Thank you turning our minds and hearts towards the wisdom of earth working renewal in the place of suffering.

  3. Thank you Janice …. for sitting with the invitation …. for opening to the possibilities … for holding the both/and … and for sharing about the fire beetle. Spirit is indeed blowing through Creation.

  4. I will definitely use this in my sermonette this Sunday. Thanks, Janice. Another thing to ponder, for those of us preaching, is that the hearers of this passage, which takes place in Jerusalem, were hearing it after the sacking of the Temple and the razing of Jerusalem in 66 CE. The holy city itself was set afire by Empire with catastrophic results. Everyone fled that fire. But the Temple was never rebuilt. I think this passage is saying to a people who knew the devastation of fire very well, that God’s fire is a different kind of fire. It is a fire the builds up, makes communication between diverse people possible and is the very antithesis of Empire’s destructive burn.

  5. Just a bit of clarification – the actual “hearers” of the passage would have been those early church communities that Luke-Acts was written for around 85CE.

  6. Thank you Janice! This gave me lots of clearing about Pentacost. I loved your stories. The firebeetles especially. I never knew they had such a big roll of restoring the forrests. God is great. ???????? Torill

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