Pentecost: The Origin of Fire

The Origin of Fire © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Book of Acts, Day of Pentecost (May 27): Acts 2.1-21

Gary and I have just returned from spending a few days in Virginia, where we led a retreat and Sunday worship at the wonderful Gayton Kirk, and Gary did a couple of concerts in the Richmond area. Amongst the marvelous folks we spent time with over the weekend were  two young sisters, seven and eight years old, who each gave me a piece of their artwork, and an 87-year-old woman who, after a series of losses, spoke of how she is excited to see what new thing God has in store for her.

On the morning of Pentecost, after the Spirit-scorched disciples are accused of being drunk, Peter reaches back in time as he addresses his accusers, conjuring the words of the prophet Joel. In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams (Acts 1.17,  NRSV,  drawing from Joel 2.28).

Borrowing Joel’s words, Peter reminds us that we belong to a God who has small regard for chronology. In the days to come, Peter and the prophet tell us, God will pour out God’s Spirit upon those of few years as well as those possessed of many years; those with little history or experience will be able to envision things yet to unfold, and the elders who surely must have seen it all will be visited with new dreams of events they could never have imagined.

In the last days, Peter and Joel tell us. Yet the God who is not a slave to chronology, this God who abides in time but is not bound by it, offers us glimpses of how the Spirit moves even in these days. For me, these glimpses come in small moments that linger: young girls whose drawings invite me to see the world through their eyes and imaginations; a woman of great years whose expectant waiting challenges me to ponder where I am looking for new life. Each one draws my vision, my attention, my dreaming toward the God who pours out the Spirit with abandon: this Ancient One who is the origin of fire and sends it forth to make all things new.

For previous reflections on Pentecost, click the images or titles below. And for my subscribers who receive these blog posts via email: if it’s been a while since you’ve visited The Painted Prayerbook online, please stop by and see our new look!

Pentecost: One Searing Word
(includes “Pentecost Blessing”)

Pentecost: Fire and Breath

[To use the image “The Origin of Fire,” please visit this page at Your use of helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!]

3 Responses to “Pentecost: The Origin of Fire”

  1. carolyn Says:

    Beautiful – words and image. Beautiful.

  2. David Says:

    Thank-you Jan for helping prepare my heart for the celebration of Pentecost.

  3. Jan Richardson Says:

    Thanks so much, Carolyn and David! I’m grateful for your words.

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