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Inviting the Light: “Water, Wind, and Fire Are Not Tame”

Inviting the Light: “Water, Wind, and Fire Are Not Tame”

By The Rev. Carole Wageman

“Be careful—don’t play with fire” we tell our children as they are growing up. Perhaps that is something we should remind ourselves as well on the day of Pentecost when the power of the Holy Spirit displayed itself: “Be careful when you invite the Holy Spirit. You are dealing with fire and you just never know where the Spirit of God may lead you.”

The action of the Holy Spirit seems to flow through time like a massive river of living energy…a mystical and sacred something, at times peaceful and at other times raging but always shaping and moving toward something greater than itself.

Bishop Tom Wright says: “To invoke or invite the Holy Spirit….is not simply to hope for a gentle nudge from time to time…It is to take the risk of having all that wild, untamable energy sweep through us…But the rivers of living water have a purpose. They are not bubbling and whirling around for the sake of it. They are designed, not simply to satisfy our thirst … but to irrigate the land beyond us. If the rock is worn into a new shape in the process, so be it … Don’t trivialize Pentecost. Think how the Spirit-imagery works. Water, wind, and fire are not tame.” (Twelve Months of Sundays: Biblical Meditations on the Christian Years A, B & C p 69).

It is natural to wonder where the Spirit is heading next for God is not limited to only church activities. God is frequently way out ahead leading us forward saying: “Come on….Follow me. I know the way…” The Holy Spirit that blew through the room during Pentecost continues to blow through our own lives and circumstances all the time, if we pay attention.

Where is the Holy Spirit at work right now here in your community of faith? Where have things been the most challenging and difficult? Where have issues felt bumpy, thorny and rough? What are the things that keep you awake at night in the wee hours of the dark? Where have you said: “Oh God, where are you now?” I suspect those are the exact places where the Holy Spirit is prodding us the most—those places where we are comfortable but need to be pricked awake. Poking us to look at issues we would rather avoid. Provoking us to set sail in those living waters not fully knowing what shore they will bring us to. Sometimes the Holy Spirit might be knocking at a door for a long time before one is able to realize it. That is true for communities of faith as well as for individuals.

“Water, wind and fire are not tame” and God is in charge. So while we pray and sing: “Come Holy Spirit, Come” be careful what you ask for—you just might get it. There is always a resurrection. No matter how challenging the subject. No matter how thorny the issues and bumps that we encounter. No matter how difficult things might seem every day, God always makes room for something new to take place in ways that we least expect.

Prayer for Pentecost: Almighty God, who on this day showed yourself once again to be a God of surprises, surprise us now as well and help us open our lives to your active presence. Create in us an awareness of your stunning reverence for all creation and your sustaining love in all that we do; all that we are now; and all that we are meant to become. For the love and re-creation of your kingdom and in the Name and Spirit of Christ. Amen.

Copyright Carole A. Wageman 2018. All rights reserved.

NOTE: Similar stories from Scripture are explored more fully in my book: “The Light Shines Through: Our Stories Are God’s Story” by Church Publishing, Inc. Ordering available now at Hopkins Bookshop (, Church Publishing ( or

Photos from #1 #2 Abby Kihano

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