Every time I feel the Spirit, I think of that Shekinah night the Pentecostals brought their tents to our town.
Pentecost 1966 found me in Brussels in the Cathedral of Saint Michael. The holiday mass offered me an hour of reflection as the high worship flew at me in two languages: Latin, which I understood only intermittently, and Flemish, which I understood not at all. Thirty of us had gathered in the great cathedral, which stretched cavernous and dark behind us.
The Eucharist was most medieval and colorful, read by a red-robed cardinal attended by two brightly garbed guards. With all the plumage of the worship leader and the officious pageantry, the great church seemed to embarrass the little crowd, huddled at the altar end of the cathedral. The echoes of the holy words flew through the dank air.
I made out the unintelligible service to be about the Holy Spirit, so I thumbed my English Bible to Acts 2 and tried to keep faith with the cardinal, who was totally unaware that a Baptist from America was there, spying on his liturgy but very much in need of a word from the Lord.
No matter! It was Pentecost: a day for celebrating the time when power once fell upon the church; the wind blew then, the flame danced, too. Indeed, the miter of the bishop was in the shape of flame to recall the descent of the warm, indwelling God of Whitsunday.
The bishop swung the censer, and the odor of incense drifted from the altar, heady as new wine. I suddenly understood why the early churches were accused of a giddy inebriation. Drunk on God were those Spirit-washed disciples.
They were elated, out of touch with their business-dominated, commerce-controlled world. They must have danced the streets mad with joy, speaking in languages they had never ...1
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