When asked if we’re part of a church, many of us are quick to say, “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual.” We don’t want to be connected to any particular church or religious group, but we don’t want to throw out God altogether. Instinctively, we know there is more to life and to us than we can see and touch. Scientists have not been able to explain everything, so we talk about a greater power, a life force, and… spirituality.
Last Sunday, the Christian church celebrated Pentecost. Now there’s a church word. It refers to an event in the Bible that occurred fifty days after Jesus’ resurrection. The story has all the elements of a Stephen Spielberg movie, with tongues of fire dancing on people’s heads and strange languages spilling forth from the mouths of uneducated people. The essence of the story is that God’s Spirit came to a terrified group of Jesus’ followers who were hiding in a locked room in Jerusalem. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, they ran out into the streets yelling about God’s love that came in Jesus to teach us how to live. “…a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?” (Acts 2: 6-8)
Jesus was a man of deep spirituality. In fact, he declared that it is the Spirit of the law, not the letter of the law that we are to follow. That same Holy Spirit is given by God to all people. We aren’t born religious. Religious teaching reflects our human understanding of God. Jesus spoke out against the religiosity of the Pharisees.
Each year, as we celebrate Pentecost, Christians are reminded that we have been equipped by God’s Spirit. God calls us to nurture that Holy Spirit, so it will burst into flames of unconditional love for all of God’s beautiful world. Pentecost reminds us that our Christian religion gives us a framework for God’s message of love. Our religion supports us with teaching and companionship as we answer God’s call. For us, God’s message came as Jesus, God’s gift to the world.