“There came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind … and there appeared unto them cloven tongues, like as of fire”
These are wonderful words which capture the Pentecostal experience. More importantly, they are wonderful words which carry us into the mystery of Pentecost itself and into its meaning. They are about something more, though surely not less, than what the experience suggests. The language here is that of metaphor in the form of simile, a sound “as of a rushing mighty wind,” things that appear and are seen, “cloven tongues, like as of fire.” Pentecost, is seems, is all theatre, son et lumière, sound and light. But what a show, what a spectacle!
The language is powerful and instructive. The Holy Spirit, of course, is not wind and fire. Plenty of that about, of course; Synod is over but a provincial election is still underway! And, of course, you may say, there are the usual Rector’s ramblings! All wind, no doubt.
Yet, wind and fire are signs that point us to the presence and truth of the spiritual reality of God. The most elusive things of the natural world, wind and fire, tangible and yet not so tangible – after all, who can see the wind, who can touch the fire? – are used to signify to us the transcendent reality of God precisely in the moment of God’s intimate engagement with our humanity.