May 23, 2021
Set Our Hearts on Fire
“Shine Jesus shine. Fill this land with the Father’s glory. Blaze Spirit blaze, set our hearts on fire. Flow river flow, flood the nations with grace and mercy. Send forth your word Lord and let there be light.” These are words from the hymn “Shine, Jesus Shine” found on page 154 of our hymnal. But I first heard these words sung by Chris Hughes, a UMC minister. Chris was the musical director for “Pilgrimage,” a gathering of UMC teenagers from the eastern part of North Carolina. Sining with him were over 3,000 young people and close to 500 advisors. It was an amazing experience and one in which you could sense the Holy Spirit through out the huge arena. The breath of God was blowing through and each individual heard the message of hope, love, and peace as it spoke to them. The energy was powerful!
Pentecost originally was the spring festival in which the first fruits of the harvest were offered as gifts in praise and gratitude to God, but in Jesus’ time it had become a time for remembering God giving the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai. When Jesus sent the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, God’s gift of new life and rebirth took on an even deeper meaning. A new way of hearing God’s word was available to all, not just to the Galileans. All those unusual names I spouted out in the reading from Acts 2:1-21. Represented all the nations of the known world at that time. Not just disciples, believers, or witnesses to the resurrection but at that moment in time young, old, female, male, slave, or free were included and expected to prophesy and dream! The Holy Spirit was ushering in a new age in which God was speaking to all God’s children. The Spirit was ablaze and setting the people’s hearts on fire. Imagine what that energy felt like to the foreign spectators. Each with a tongue resting on them—no one was excluded!
We have talked about dreamers for the past seven weeks. People with big dreams that saw their dream come true. Last week and this week we talked about the two biggest dreamers: Jesus and God. The Spirit is still ablaze and and wanting to set hearts on fire! Are we ready to LISTEN. Are we ready to hear what God has to say to us?
Because the story of Pentecost is not just about a day long ago in a far away place. It is OUR story—the foundational story of the church. Even Sunday we invite the Holy Spirit into this sacred place. We can trust Jesus’ promise that the Spirit is here! My question is do we feel it? Do we allow our hearts and minds to feel the Spirit—feel it blowing the words God wants us to hear? Are we listening to God who has called us to a new way fo being church?
The past 15 months have not been easy. The pandemic caused by Covid-19 has left us feeling weary and sad. We are a grieving family who has lost long time members. We have to be kind to ourselves and realize that it will take time to fully recover from the the effects of our losses.
In the midst of all of this we can take comfort in the fact that the Holy Spirit is our comforter. And has the power to blow the word of God like a howling wind until we are healed. As we begin to move forward we may find ourselves too confused, too tired, and too uncertain of what to pray for; remember we can turn to the Holy Spirit and simply say “Come Holy Spirit, we need help.” We have this amazing gift given to us that will set our hearts on fire and lead us into the light with God’s word. God has a purpose for us. Let the Spirit in to open our hearts and minds to speak and listen to the language of the new age.
Today we invite the Holy Spirit into our hearts. Let them be set on fire and create a renewed energy and hope in us. Help us to make your dream come true! Send forth your word, O God, and let there be light.