When I was around 10 years old, I would spend my afternoons after school at my Great Grandma Standish’s house. Her house was walking distance of my parent’s home and sometimes I would just walk there from the school bus stop. I remember one day vividly. I was sitting at her kitchen table that was pushed against a wall in the chair right next to her corner hutch that I loved so much. I remember the smell of the old antique wood in the house and how bright and cheerful her kitchen was. We often spent time sitting there chatting. She would tell me stories of her life and I would ask her questions. I was fascinated by all she experienced. It blew my mind that I was talking to someone born in 1898. She was older than the Titanic.
I remember the piece of fruit cake she had given me for a snack that day. I was sitting there wondering how much of this cake she expected me to eat and if I could get away without having to eat it at all. The last time I had her fruit cake, I couldn’t get the taste out of my mouth for what felt like forever. But as I contemplated this cake, I was suddenly snapped out of my focus on how much I disliked fruit cake when she said that she often wondered why she was still alive. Her husband was gone. Two of her children were gone. And she didn’t know why God kept her alive. I felt a bit uncomfortable with this line of conversation. But I also felt heartbroken for her pain and wanted nothing more than to comfort and help her. I didn’t know the right thing to say to her. I only knew what I believed. I believed that God still had work for her to do. And I knew how much I cherished those talks, and those visits with her. I was glad that she was still around. I needed her to be around. So I told her that. I don’t know if it helped and I no longer remember how she responded but I know that it got me thinking about my life and what God might have in store for me.
I remember in those moments thinking to myself, I want to help people find comfort in life. I didn’t want people to hurt like my great grandmother did. A couple of years later, I would realize just how God was calling me to live into this inspiration, into this call. I have come to believe that moments of clarity like that are those moments that we know the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives. It usually doesn’t make its appearance in grand ways as it did on that first Pentecost. But it makes its appearance in those things that inspire us, that make us enthusiastic, that excites us to God’s work for God’s people.
For each person, it comes in different ways through different gifts and talents. It moves among us as a breeze moves through the trees. It refreshes our souls and leaves us feeling excited and exhilarated. It sparks a passion deep inside our souls that drives us forward. For me that one visit with my great grandmother planted in my young heart a determination to do for others what I could not do for her. And that determination, that passion, got me through 3 grueling years of graduate school and it was what drove me when I battled stomach ulcers and doubts and the pressures of school. And it is that same determination that keeps me dedicated to my work in God’s name to this day. It is a dedication that is the evidence of the Holy Spirit working in my life and through my life to make this world a better place.
On Pentecost, we often remember the way that the Holy Spirit moved through the community and inspired and brought many to faith. But we don’t often reflect on how the Holy Spirit still moves through us and our world in the present. Just as it worked through the Apostles and people of faith back then, it still works through us to this day. We see it in the various gifts of the Spirit mentioned in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. And we feel it in the way the Spirit moves us to act with conviction, to care with dedication, and to embrace those in need with a compassion that can only come from the Holy.
The Spirit moved those early believers on that first Pentecost to not only convert but to also go out and work in the name of the Lord, to make God’s work come to life in a world that was constantly in need. This is our mission as well. When we find that calling, when we find that which we are passionate for, we are not to keep this to ourselves. But rather this is God’s way of saying to go out and change the world, make a difference with the gifts he has given to us. Friedrich Nietzsche, a 19th century theologian, commented, “A sedentary life is the real sin against the Holy Spirit. Only those thoughts that come by walking have any value”. What this means is that we need to go out and use the inspiration of the Spirit in this world and not just sit on it. We need to go out and affect the lives of others. We need to walk the life that the Spirit has called us to live.
So this week let’s be like those who witnessed the first Pentecost. Let us walk the path of the inspired, using all our gifts in the Spirit to affect the lives of people all over the world. Let us reach out to those in need, offer one another compassion and care in community, and let us live into those notions that sit so strongly in our hearts. This is what we are called to do. This is how we can more fully live into the Spirit allowing it to mold our lives into the type of life that God has always wanted us to have. So remember the words from the book of Acts, that Leon read to us this morning, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability”. So allow for the Spirit to fill you this week, and through careful prayer and thought, seek out how it calls you to act in this world and allow for it to reveal to you just what God has instore for your life.
 Friedrich Nietzsche, 19th century theologian.
 Acts 2: 4, NRSV.