This past week, the Church Universal had a birthday. Pentecost has come and gone, and it feels like almost nothing has happened at all. Though the scriptures speak of tongues of flame resting on the heads of the faithful, blowing open the doors of faith to people of every nationality and background, I have to wonder: where has that Pentecost power gone? And will we ever see it again? Rather… will I see it again?
I’ve been in a bit of a spiritual low season for about a year now, since I left the ministry. May 13th was my one year anniversary of leaving the church for California and the open waters of academia. It’s hard think about, honestly–that’s why I’ve been sitting on these emotions for a month now. I’ve seen annual conference season come and go, and all the drama that entails. I miss the relationships I made in the ministry. I don’t miss the drama, and the search for ever-elusive fire the church continues to seek that once burned bright on Pentecost.
I continue to be in a strange place, spiritually. I don’t know when or if I’ll get out of it. Perhaps I should read some Kierkegaard and commiserate over our existential angst. Maybe I should read something more uplifting to get me out of my despondency. I don’t know anymore. All I do know is that the church’s fire has lost some of it’s shimmer for me. Seeing my home denomination’s ever-tumultuous struggle with identity makes me all the more confused, and sad.
I miss the simplicity of the faith of my youth, faith in a church that seemed strong and vibrant, with direction and passion. I miss idealism and hope. I want to still have hope. Hope’s hard to come across these days. I miss the Pentecostal fires that I feel like I must have had once.
So I guess for now I wait for a new Pentecost, either in my old church or in a new one that I find myself in. Time marches on. I’m done with my first year of course work, and taking the time now to learn Italian, which is rewarding in its own ways. But I do miss the passion of boundless opportunity that seems lost as the church devours itself with litigiousness, bickering, and alienation to the gospel of love that I fell in love with years ago.
Perhaps we’re all waiting for Pentecost. We can’t make a Pentecost happen, after all. We can’t control it. We can’t command the Spirit to transform us. That takes patience and faith. I hope I still have that kind of faith that allows transformation. I’m probably in a state of transformation right now, but it’s so slow that it’s hard to notice. Fires smolder still in my heart. I just hope it will be kindled anew someday soon.