Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Fly away Peter, fly away Paul...

Pentecost is a melancholic season. There is the hope of Advent, the passion and longing of Lent, the exuberance of Easter, but on the whole I think Pentecost is a subdued time of the year.

Yes, it was the day on which tongues of fire rested upon the believers and the Spirit of God swept through the congregation in a dramatic part-fulfilment of the prophet Joel's prophecy (Acts 2:1-4). Yes, it was the delivery of what Jesus had promised prior to His ascension (Acts 1:8). But it was also followed by the fragmentation of the church, sharp disputes here and there, and all manner of crises to which the apostles had to apply themselves with as much wisdom as the Spirit of God gave them.

More than that, the first Pentecost also marked the beginning of a season of goodbyes. Reading Paul's epistles to the Romans and the Corinthians, I come face to face with an apostle who knew loneliness, and who longed for the company of his fellow brethren time and again.

Perhaps I feel it now too. Soo Tian returns for a year of graduate studies in the UK. Ai Wei is back in Penang. Li-Shia heads off to Wollongong for an exchange semester, and Alissa to Sweden. My dear cousin Leanne will be doing the same in Melbourne.

Pentecostal and Charismatic churches like to trumpet the grandeur and drama of Pentecost; I come from a Pentecostal church so I know this. And all of that is well and fine, because Pentecost is a season of power and signs and wonders.

But let us not forget the painful decisions the apostles had to make following Pentecost. Let us not forget their sacrifices and the hardships they endured, that we too may be encouraged in our times of hardship and loneliness. Let us remember that the grace of God which was sufficient for Paul, will be sufficient for us.

And He who has His eyes on the sparrow, has His eyes upon us always, too.


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(Little India, Penang. Nikon FM10. 70-210mm f/4-5.6. Provia 100.)

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