12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”
13 But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.” Acts 2:12-13
One of my favorite memories as a child was visiting with my grandparents and going to their church. My grandparents lived in public housing in downtown Dallas in a small apartment. With the innocence of a child, I was unaware they didn’t have much as they had been tenant farmers their whole life. But whenever we went to stay with them, my grandmother would hide candy all over the apartment, and my sister and I would race to find these treasures. On Sunday mornings, we would get up and have biscuits and gravy and then head to their church. Their worship was in a small store front with about thirty people or so. I didn’t know what it meant at that time, but they were Pentecostal.
What I did know was their worship was quite different from what I experienced at my church. At various points in the service someone would stand and shake and start speaking in tongues. They would hold their hands in the air and dance in the aisles. Some would even “faint in the spirit.” I just remember being fascinated by it all. But even at that young age I was Presbyterian enough to think to myself – “These people are crazy!”
Over the years I have come to appreciate that experience as a child. Whenever I read the story of Pentecost and the gift of the Holy Spirit, the image of my Grandparents church comes to my mind. I have loved worship in my Presbyterian church growing up with its beautiful liturgy, meaningful music, and thoughtful reflectiveness. Yet my grandparents church had something that challenged my stolid and serious sense of God. They were so free in their joy no matter their life circumstances.
To me the Holy Spirit is about being set free to dance and sing and celebrate life. Pentecost is letting go of what confines us; it is setting aside expectations; and it is being so free in the moment that one cannot help but shout one’s experience of God. I yearn for such moments in my self-conscious way of being in the world. This Pentecost season, I pray that we all may find those times when the Spirit comes and we forget ourselves and we are set free to dance.