The opportunity to commemorate the day of Pentecost in Israel was an opportunity beyond my imagining. Why? Well, because I am one of those people who, if I could only attend church one day a year, would choose Pentecost over Easter and Christmas or almost any other day in the liturgical calendar. So the chance to stand on the land of the peoples who gave birth to my faith, a faith that in many ways was really born this day — well, that was a great gift. And if you want to read about the events of the day, no one can tell you that story better than my friend Tony …
Yesterday, however, made me look at the story of Pentecost in Acts 2 just a little differently. Yesterday, I had a good reminder of just what it feels like to have a tongue of fire over your head and maybe I finally got a real world understanding of just what that means.
If you know me well, you know that I struggle with the gift of music in my life. I do not, frankly, always see it as a gift. The music business is often narcissistic and to have real success you need to be able to set aside many things to make that climb — things that I hold dear, like love and community. I will not say that you have to set aside your faith, although I think that would have been true for me. And over these past few years of the discernment process, I have come to a place where I am willing to let go of the world’s idea of fame and achievement and just focus on the path ahead of me. I have tried to put music down, I have considered it a burden, I have tried to walk away. But I have com to know that I could not — I just have not been sure what place speaking through song should have in my life, if any. But every time I have tried to set it down, something comes along to remind me that is most likely not the plan.
So when Tony asked me if I would sing something in the theatre at Beth Sha’en yesterday, I wasn’t sure. I really wasn’t sure. But sticking true to my belief that I just had to put one foot after another on the path ahead I agreed and selected a piece of music that I could do without accompaniment and, well, anywhere. I chose “The Holy City”.
And I sang it. And as that beautiful day of Pentecost unfolded afterwards, with all the amazing sights and our wonderful ride on the Sea of Galilee, the meaning of it all became clear to me. Those tongues of fire — yes, they were the Holy Spirit. But we never talk about what the Holy Spirit did in that moment. After my Pentecost experience here on the shores of the Galilee, I realize that the Holy Spirit, among other things, brought to us an awareness of our individual call, our individual set of holy gifts of the spirit. And that is apparently one of the great gifts to me of this trip.
So while I was singing a song that says so much about what I believe about a life of faith and about our obligation as disciples to open our arms and our hearts to the world, as I sang these words “And once again the scene was changed, new earth there seemed to be; I saw the Holy City, beside the tideless sea; the light of God was on its streets, the gates were opened wide; and all who would might enter and NO ONE was denied,” as I remembered the anniversary of my licensing to the Gospel Ministry, I too received a new understanding of my call to use my gifts, all of them.
Thank you, one and all, and especially Tony, for the chance to remember in this amazing place.