By Rev. Marta González, Pastor of the Dominguito Church of the Nazarene, Arecibo, West Puerto Rico District
Of all the things we could discuss about Pentecost, tongues of fire above every head seems the strangest. The Word of God says, “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” Acts 2:1-4.
The gift of God that Jesus Christ promised before he ascended to heaven appeared in an extraordinary way in the midst of a gathering of the disciples. As evidence to everyone present, in addition to the noise and the strong wind that entered the room, they saw a tongue of flame above the heads of each of the disciples. This and other details about the events of Pentecost have always attracted my attention, but what does all of this have to do with us today?
The pouring out of the Holy Spirit was a promised gift. When I give a gift, I identify something that would please the receiver or something they need, and then I make or buy it. But not God. His gifts to us have been his own presence in our lives. God gives himself. He came as a servant and gave his life for everyone. His manifestation has been evident.
The gift appeared like fire. I cannot give fire as a gift to anyone, but God can, which is marvelous. The fire of his Spirit is purifying! The law is intended to sanctify, and Jesus came to complete the work of holiness. Then his Spirit, like a fire inside of us, will work so that we might have pure hearts, just as he is pure. In Pentecost, they literally saw tongues of flame above every head. It was as Malachi wrote that the day of the Lord would be “like a refiner’s fire or a launder’s soap.” Malachi 3:2
The Holy Spirit came like fire in a purifying bath to sanctify our lives, but to what purpose? He comes to train us in holiness, power, grace and truth so that in season and out of season we can share the Good News in the midst of a world in chaos. There were tongues of fire so that we can boldly speak his words, but more than that, so that his words would be translated into concrete actions.
The time has come for disciples to rise up with fire above them. Disciples wholly committed to serving everyone. Disciples who have the flame of the Spirit lit in order to win the needy, the abandoned and the marginalized. Who are we giving ourselves for? Are we impacting people with the holy and loving message of the Teacher? To offer them the warmth of the fire of his love, we embody Jesus and offer them life. The work of God has been manifested. Let them see tongues of fire over our heads.
May God fill them with his sanctifying fire.