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Playing with fire

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Linda Henke Pentecost parament

During a recent 1,500-mile train trip, I ruminated on what visual might best convey the essence of the Spirit’s appearance at Pentecost. I recalled some of the biblical stories about fire and how those might inform our appreciation of the Spirit’s appearance at Pentecost as fire and flame—Moses’ encounter with God in the fiery bush […]

The post Playing with fire appeared first on Living Lutheran.

Linda Henke Pentecost parament
Linda Henke Pentecost parament Wholly, Holy, Whole is a textile-art project designed for installation in Carmel (Ind.) Lutheran Church, collaboratively executed by students and staff of Carmel’s Fine Arts Academy. Henke’s Playing with Fire sculpture. Henke’s Veni, Sancte Spiritus, commissioned by the ELCA churchwide organization, depicts the Spirit’s ongoing activity in gifting and empowering people, first documented at Pentecost.

During a recent 1,500-mile train trip, I ruminated on what visual might best convey the essence of the Spirit’s appearance at Pentecost.

I recalled some of the biblical stories about fire and how those might inform our appreciation of the Spirit’s appearance at Pentecost as fire and flame—Moses’ encounter with God in the fiery bush (Exodus 3); God’s guiding presence made known to the Hebrew people in the pillars of cloud and fire (Exodus 13); the voice of God coming out of the fire (Deuteronomy 5); Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego miraculously surviving the furnace of blazing fire (Daniel 1-3); and John the Baptizer’s warnings about the unquenchable fire (Matthew 3).

I also ruminated on human experiences of fire, both in ancient days and in our own. I thought about fire that provides light and generates warmth, but also fire that refines. I reflected on fire that, like the Spirit, provides light for God’s people, generates warmth among God’s people, refines the visions and ministries of God’s people and, yes, sometimes consumes or leaves a path of destruction among God’s people.

At some point, I was prompted to ask: When, in the Prayer of the Day for Pentecost, we implore God to “by your Holy Spirit, kindle in us the fire of your love, empowering our lives for service and our tongues for praise,” for what are we praying? I suspect that, in most cases, we are praying that God’s Spirit will move powerfully to advance whatever visions and ministries are already in place within our faith communities.

But what if we lifted our prayers with hearts open to receiving the fire of God’s Spirit in whatever expressions the Spirit chooses to be made known?

READ:  Make a joyful noise

Fire that illuminates paths in bold new directions. Fire that so warms our insular faith communities that we are compelled to convey God’s love and care to those beyond our circles of affiliation. Fire that inflames our hearts, unleashes our imaginations and sends us out to love and serve in ways that challenge our comfort zones. Fire that opens our eyes to programs, practices, attitudes and perspectives that need to die in order for the Spirit to bring to life God’s “new thing” within and among us.


I thought about fire that provides light and generates warmth, but also fire that refines.


That’s how I ended up “playing with fire” as a visual for Pentecost (see page 11). These worship visuals, formatted for a variety of uses, are available as free editable files for faith communities to adapt to their particular contexts at lindahenke.com.

Here are some possibilities (adaptable to both virtual and in-person worship) for using that visual, in its various formats, as kindling to stoke the fire of the Spirit in your Pentecost observances:

READ:  Worship in the Home: Day of Pentecost, May 23, 2021

An old adage reminds us: “If you play with fire, you are likely to get burned.”  Amen. May it be so!

The post Playing with fire appeared first on Living Lutheran.

Source: Living Lutheran https://www.livinglutheran.org/2021/05/playing-with-fire/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=playing-with-fire

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