Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Pentecost for Main Street

Harlem street lawyer/lay theologian William Stringfellow contextualizes Pentecost, which is celebrated on May 19 this year.

NOT PRIVATE BUT PUBLIC. "...As a matter of history and theology, the biblical happening most pertinent to the baptism of the Spirit is, manifestly, Pentecost. The scene is not private but quite public; it is not individualistic but notorious, not idiosyncratic but scandalous; and onlookers are said to behold Pentecost as provocative and controversial; it appears to have been an offense to the ruling authorities."

TRANSCENDING DISTINCTIONS. "Central in the experience of the power of the Holy Spirit among the disciples, both commonly and severally, is a transcendence of worldly distinction (as race, age, sex, class, occupation, nationality, language, tongue) that anticipates the eschatological consummation of the whole of fallen creation in the Kingdom of God."

RESTORING ORIGINAL PERSONHOOD. "Simultaneously, in Pentecost, each person receives the renewal of human gifts and capabilities, the restoration, as it were, of one's original personhood, a reconciliation with and within self in utterly intimate detail happening within the environment of each person's reconciliation with the rest of humanity and the whole of created life throughout time."

PERSONAL AND COSMIC. "These same aspects of Pentecost--the most intensely personal and the cosmic and ultimate--become, ever after, the marks of authentic and credible conversion of the baptism of the Spirit. When a person nowadays can be said to be baptized of the Holy Spirit, it means that the person is, verily, incorporated into the experience of Pentecost."

Quotes are from A Keeper of the Word: Selected Writings of William Stringfellow edited by Bill Wylie Kellerman, Eerdmans, 1994

John Franklin Hay 
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA 

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