On May 31st the Christian Church celebrated Pentecost. Pentecost is a celebration in the church occurring 49 days after Easter Sunday. This celebration references the Biblical scripture from the book of Acts, Chapter 2, in which a large gathering of Christ’s followers were together and suddenly a force like a strong wind or fire swept across the room and the people were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. In our churches today we often see an abundant use of red, red clothing, red banners and there are many references to the flames of the Holy Spirit. Some would argue it is often one of the most dramatic and theatrical celebrations of the entire church year.
I believe our Outdoor Ministry sites really have the upper hand at Pentecost. We have the inherit ability to incorporate real flames in our worship on a very regular basis. A significant number of our worship events happen while we are gathered around a campfire. Around our campfires we tell stories, we sing songs, and we experience the Holy Spirit influencing the lives of those who have gathered. It is easy to claim that every camp fire has the potential to be a Pentecost moment.
This year unfortunately there will not be any large gatherings around our campfires for a while. Just as our churches have dispersed to experience and share the power of the Holy Spirit in their own homes and across their communities, we have also been dispersed. That does not mean the Holy Spirit is not working. It simply means we are being asked to envision that influence on our lives in new and innovative ways. Our sites and our employees are not sitting idle, waiting for this all to be over. We are examining how we do everything and how we utilize the resources that we have been given. We are exploring new ways to perform ministry and working on ways to connect with our communities while being dispersed.
If you have the ability to light a small camp fire in your backyard, or even a candle on a table, I encourage you to do so. Light the fire and then sit back and watch the flames and the smoke. Notice how the elements of fire never move in the same way twice, it is always weaving and swirling, ebbing and growing. Now envision the Holy Spirit doing the same both in your lives and the lives of the greater Church and of Outdoor Ministry. The Holy Spirit is alive and well!
~ Rev. Nathan Athorp