Pentecost - and after
I've still got the Pentecost flames in the boot of my car.
We made them out of red and amber cellophane and gold wrapping paper, cut into flame or petal shapes, and twisted into shape with florist's wire. They added brightness and light to the floral arrangement for the day, along with the seasonal chrysanthemums and autumn leaves.
Afterwards the flowers died and were trashed by the next week's flower arranger but the flames were saved, and I brought them home again in my car. I couldn't decide where to store them and so they stayed in the car. And so I am wondering, what happens to the flames of Pentecost when Pentecost is over?
It's an interesting concept, the flames of the Spirit. When we studied the epic poem the Aeneid (by the Roman poet Virgil) we noticed that any actions of Zeus were accompanied by flaming arrows, or bolts of lightning. This was the ancient wat of symbolising power, and especially divine power. And this is not too dissimilar to the representation of the hero in some of today's comic strips or big budget sci-fi movies. So the power of God is revealed at Pentecost, but not in the person of God or in Jesus. It is shown being distributed, shared, given to the followers of Jesus. "Tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them" (Acts 2:3). Pentecost is the giving of the Spirit, the sharing of the power of God, the making-strong Spirit. (The Spirit as 'Comforter' really means making-strong, the older meaning of comfort.)
So at Pentecost the followers were given something from God, where made strong - and the rest of the Book of Acts shows what they did, how they spread the news of Jesus, and how the infant church developed.
This week I attended a training course from work to learn about a new computer program we will be using for most of the work we do. There was not room at the course for all our staff to attend, so the four of us who attended have the task of training everyone else back at work. This is a really daunting prospect, as one day's training did not seem to give us complete expertise! Will we have remembered everything we were taught? Will our system set-up work in exactly the same way? Will they listen?
Well, we have the manual! And we have the Help Desk in Wellington! And hopefully the training we received will give us the confidence and the strength to pass on our knowledge.
I leave the obvious analogies to the reader, but I want to think again about the red and gold flames left in the car. I think that, like the flowers, they will get trashed, but being thrifty we'll keep the florist's wire to use again!
The paper flames were only symbols, but the flames of the Spirit are everlasting in the followers of Jesus, making us strong to do his work in the world today.
© Joan Robertson