Comedian Ron White is a bit of an acquired taste, but one of the jokes he tells during his stand-up act always gets me. “There was a guy down in Florida who said that, at the age of 53 years old, he was in good enough physical condition to withstand the wind, rain and hail of a force-3 hurricane. Now, let me explain somethin' to ya. It isn't that the wind is blowin', it's what the wind is blowin'. If you get hit by a Volvo, it doesn't matter how many sit-ups you did that morning. If you have a "Yield" sign in your spleen, joggin' don't really come into play.”
In 2009, readers of Homily Service were invited to consider the images of fire and of wind from Luke’s account of the events of Pentecost, and to consider the danger and power inherent in those images.
We usually treat [fire] with respect. It still escapes very frequently and then the fire department has to deal with it. If it really gets away from us, it is a danger to people and property. It regularly takes life all over this country, day by day. Every year we hear, or sadly experience, what fire can do when it gets out of control. But used correctly, it brings great benefits. There is light and heat, a source for cooking, something that can release great power in generating stations.Wind, on the other hand, we have never been able to corral. It uproots trees, flattens crops, and turns over structures. At its most fierce, it becomes something that is almost solid, capable of great destruction of almost anything we humans can make; it can twist and break steel and demolish strong buildings, as seen in hurricanes and typhoons. Yet it too is a powerful force that can bring benefits - moving weights, supporting a Boeing 747, releasing power in turbines.Perhaps the one thing that these two forces have in common is this. When something is touched by them in great force, that thing can never be the same again.
As a preacher, how will you seek to convey the power of the Pentecost experience to your congregation?
Michael Beck (2009): 31 May 2009; Pentecost Sunday, Homily Service 42:3,15
Michael Beck is an Anglican parish priest in the Durham Diocese of the United Kingdom, as well as serving as Diocesan Director of Reader Ministry.