Sunday, June 08, 2014

I do not know the trick to conjure Pentecost flames

Three years ago during the season of Pentecost, Brian and I waited to hear God's direction on a life-changing move for our family.  My imagination had been watered with the Gospel accounts of Jesus-followers waiting for the promise of Pentecost power and direction. I wrote this poem after waiting in our hallway by the closed door of our bedroom. Behind the closed door, Brian answered questions during a phone interview with a group of dedicated and kind Vestry members from a growing Anglican church in Austin, Texas.  

Passion to Pentecost
Linda McCray via CIVA Network

circling the Presence
by Tamara Hill Murphy

I wonder what marked the moment as the acceptable time for tongues of fire to fall down? 

A certain magic word?

What ancient riddle opened the door?  Moved the mountain into the sea?
What familiar Spirit fluttered the dead eyelid?  Called deep up from deep?  
I do not have the word, have not discovered the incantation.
                                                           But I've met the Spirit
and I think I know the answer.

I do not know the answer in the way one memorizes a flashcard formula, babbles
incessant technical jargon, wishful thinking, vain repetitions of one-hit wonders.

Not in short-term memory exercises.  Not in altar-call professions
sudden inspiration,  prickly goose-bumpy revelation.
I do not know the trick to conjure down the flames.
                                      But I studied the dusty photographs
read unfeeling the prayers, practiced the old language on inert tongue,
                                slept under the canopy of intercession, 

squatted in the hallway with the Son,
rocked sweaty in the lap of the Father,
eavesdropped under the door crack the Spirit-guide

and we knew it when we saw it


May I recommend?

  • A Pentecost sermon from Anne Kennedy, Church of the Good Shepherd, Binghamton, NY:  a good summary of how the history of the Jewish Feast of Weeks and how it forms our New Testament celebration of Pentecost

  • A collect for Pentecost: 
Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal lifeto every race and nation by the promised gift of your HolySpirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by thepreaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of theearth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reignswith you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for everand ever. Amen.
  • A collection of songs I've put together for Pentecost:

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