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Center for Action and Contemplation

Empowered to Do the Work of God 

Friday, June 2, 2023

Theologian Grace Ji-Sun Kim recounts the events of the first Pentecost: 

When the Holy Spirit arrived on the first Pentecost, it was not a quiet event; the sound was as if a great wind (breath) filled the room in which the disciples had gathered in their uncertainty and fear. The wind shook up those who had gathered. All the chaos continued. Tongues of fire appeared among the followers of Jesus. And when they went outside to speak, those who had come to Jerusalem from a wide variety of places heard the disciples’ speeches in each hearer’s native tongue, even though those speaking were all from Galilee….  

Acts 2:1–3 celebrates a powerful event of the Spirit coming down to inspire the followers of Jesus. The Spirit descended upon those gathered in that upper room in Jerusalem. This event marks the resurrection of a frightened group of people and the birth of the church. It was a miraculous, confusing, wonderful event. Luke had a little fun with us by playing on the word tongue (Greek: glossai) in his telling of the experience. He used “tongues of fire” to describe the Spirit’s dance with the followers. He then followed that by observing that those imbued by the Spirit received the ability to speak in different “tongues.” 

Kim reminds us that it is the Holy Spirit who moves us to do the work of God:  

The Holy Spirit has great power to move the people and the church. That first Pentecost seemed something of a bizarre day in the life of the church, but what a birthday! As Acts describes, the Spirit inspires the followers of Jesus to get out of the upper room and preach the good news in Jerusalem and then spread the word: north to Anatolia; west to North Africa, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Gaul; south to Egypt and Ethiopia; and east to Armenia, Mesopotamia, and Persia. The empowering Spirit moves the church to do the work of God….  

Pentecost stands second only to the resurrection among the incredible events that give life to the Christian church. In fact, Pentecost can be viewed as the resurrection of the followers of Jesus [emphasis added]. The Spirit, promised by Jesus, did not raise them from the dead, but it did pour new life into them when they were frightened, disheartened, and confused.  

The Spirit gives us life and moves us to do the work of God and bear the fruits of the Spirit. We cannot see the Spirit, but we can experience the work of the Spirit. The Spirit lives in us and inspires us when we are frightened, disheartened, and confused—states in which we often find ourselves. Pentecost fulfills Jesus’ promise and the Old Testament prophecies (Acts 2:1–13). Pentecost established that it is the Spirit that will move the people to do God’s work.  


Grace Ji-Sun Kim, The Homebrewed Christianity Guide to the Holy Spirit: Hand-Raisers, Han, and the Holy Ghost (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2018), 49, 50–51, 51–52. 

Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Exercise in Grief and Lamentation credits from left to right: Jenna Keiper, Jenna Keiper, Izzy Spitz. Used with permission. Click here to enlarge image

On retreat, the CAC staff used watercolors to connect to our collective grief. This is one of the watercolor paintings that came from that exercise. 

Story from Our Community:  

Early during the [pandemic] lockdown in the UK, I was prompted by the Daily Meditations to begin a daily practice of contemplation. I was a little surprised at myself—after all I had not attended church for 60 plus years! It felt as if our wondrous Holy Spirit was saying: “Go on, you’ll be ready to go deeper this time around.” My renewing faith, hope, and love is a daily delight—one which I cannot now imaging giving up, ever. I am so grateful to the CAC. Thank you. —Vince R. 

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