A few years ago, my thinking and theology were deepened significantly by hanging out weekly with a friend, on slightly sticky gym mats in the corner of a training room at our local sports centre. As we watched our young daughters enjoy their trampoline class with joy and freedom, (you can imagine the contrasting levels of parental anxiety!), our thinking was thrown in the air, bounced around and trained through our conversations. We still remember this time as our ‘crash mat’ sessions. We still get together for sessions (one day soon, when we can), because there is life and fire in our communication. This fire burns up some things, purifies others and, fanned by the wind of friendship, creates clearedspaces in our lives for new thinking and behaviours toflourish.
Last Sunday, we thought again of fire and wind, using our new way of inhabiting ‘flipped church’ (see previous blog post). We expressed our responses to the story of Pentecost in Acts 2 ….
Here is some of our shared thinking about this story. You are invited to pull up your own crash mat, or even jump on the trampoline! I often feel when we gather as a community, that I want to shout “Let the wild rumpus start!”
(which is what Max says, in ‘where the wild things are’ by Maurice Sendak, in case you want to know).
We wondered how might we change our old understandings about the Holy Spirit and think about what image might behelpful today? A wind catcher ornament for the garden? A dove? A butterfly? Some people created artwork to explore these.
Might she be a wind, a spirit of life, which could be powerful and useful in one context, but seemingly dangerous in another?
(btw spirit is rwh in Arabic, ruach in Hebrew – love the similarity here).
We noticed violence and voicelessness in George Floyd’s death and in our own lives, in contrast to reconciliation and the gift of communication at Pentecost.
We hung prayers of desperation on garden bushes to be blown in the wind.
We sang old, old words yearning for the inspiring Spirit whocalls and helps us find our courage and our voices.
Just interrupting the story telling here for a second; one of my favourite poets, Mary Oliver articulates this longing in ourselves and creation around us, which “calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting” – I so wish I could fly!
We heard again (perhaps each of us in our own language?) how that same Spirit validated variety in the Kingdom.
We watched as the seemingly powerless with no speech, signed their own language, Makaton, to sing a blessing over those of us with power and voices.
We remembered that Pentecost is sometimes called the birthday of the church.
Some generously listened without speaking and offered open hearts and soft faces turned towards those who were sharingpainful things.
In contrast to the narratives in the news from both America and UK, we remembered that the Pentecost invitation to anew Jesus-oriented life was inclusive and accessible for all.All ages, all genders, all nationalities.
One of our community said this “despite it all, I am hopeful/we can be hopeful and, like Peter, quoting David in Psalm 16, we can “pitch our tent in the land of hope”.
As you’re sitting/lying/stretching/jumping/resting on your‘crash mat’……
I wonder which one of these stories from our community brings life and fire for you today?
I wonder how you might like to respond, either on your own or with a friend?
I wonder what story you will tell?
(I’d love to hear it! On a crash mat, over a phone coffee, on a walk sometime…..)