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Jun 04, 2017

On Fire

Passage: Acts 2:1-21

Preacher: The Rev. Dr. Kurt Gerhard

Series: Summer 2017

Category: Pentecost


The Holy Spirit is described as fire. Fire consumes things. The Spirit consumes us and motivates us to change the world.


These are notes, I encourage you to listen to the sermon following the link above. 

When I was a kid, I was the one who followed directions, hung out with the adults, and made every effort to be an angel.

Although an angel, In the Christmas pageant circa 1981, I was assigned the role of shepherd along with others of my age including one of my closest friends, Brendan Clark.

The older kids were responsible for reading the story. Our task was to walk up the center aisle at the appropriate time, wearing a shepherd outfit which included a cloth tunic and a scratchy turban and carrying a taper candle. The candles once everyone got into place produced a low flickering light that set the entire church in the spirit of Christmas.

We did as we were supposed to. We walked up the center aisle and then we knelt on the step leading up to the altar while the story of Christmas continued.

Now, I told you that I was an angel. Brendan had a big heart and always brought joy and laughter to every activity. He was a good friend, but he didn’t share some key angelic qualities. When you were supposed to be quiet, Brendan would talk. When you were supposed to sit still, he would be making a paper airplane. So, after we got to our locations in the Christmas pageant, I was focused on being the best shepherd possible, which meant that I needed to look straight ahead and look solemn.

Brendan was whispering things in my ear (because he was right next to me on the step). Now as angelic as I was, I was also a giggler, so I was focusing all my energy at not falling into the spell of Brendan. I didn’t want to break my character in this pivotal moment.

It was totally entranced in looking ahead when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. One of the choir members got up from his seat and started running at us. He leaped over the chancel rail. At that point, I knew that Brendan had done something to get in trouble, so I went into angelic overdrive. I focused ahead and didn’t make a move to look at what he was doing.

That is when the choir member grabbed my turban right off my head. I was stunned. Why? I turned around to see him stomping out a flame.

You see, Brendan was whispering to me. He had turned himself toward me and his taper candle lit the hem of my turban. Then, like a superhero, the choir member leaped up to save my life.

I tell you this story on Pentecost because I have literally had a tongue of fire resting on me. Like the disciples on the first Pentecost. It happened at my church and around my friends.

As you know, fire is a dangerous element. With the right conditions, it consumes everything.

But, the Holy Spirit is like fire.

Being a follower of Jesus, a member of a church, means letting go of selfish desires and focusing our lives on making a transformational difference in the world. It means forgiving everything and making every effort to make the world a place for all people.

That is the consuming work of the Holy Spirit. It is breathed on us. As we renew our baptismal covenant today, we make big promises to live in a different way. To love and support each other by helping the Holy Spirit grow and grow and grow. On this Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, celebrate the Holy Spirit so that we can make the world a better place to live and move and be.