Pentecost – A Sincere Fire…

I love researching the origins of things.
One of my favorite docu-shows is ‘Mysteries At The Museum’ where they tell stories and uncover some mysterious tale from long ago that I never knew existed. I think my love for television shows like this has to do with knowledge and better understanding the world around me. There is this hunger for understanding who I am as a human being and that of this creation around me. I would imagine in some way you are the same as me in this search for truth and understanding.

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I recently came across the etymology of the word “Sincerely”. What’s funny is I know the origin story, but I liked the erroneous version of its origin better. I think I like it because I think it speaks to me on a spiritual level, and carries with it a deep connection of awe and wonder for me.

The story goes like this:
In the Middle Ages, painters would use wax to conceal blemishes in their artwork. It was a technique to cover up these mistakes so that the painter would not have to start over and could sell these paintings to potential buyers. No one would know what was under the surface of the wax, nor would they notice unless they were to carefully analyze the surface of the canvas.

Zest It Cold Wax Painting Medium Review - Jackson's Art Blog

Thus, when a painter would paint their masterpieces they would sign their paintings with ‘Sincerely’ at the bottom in order for the buyer to understand that the artist had created this masterpiece “without blemish”, or without the use of cover up wax. This was a guarantee of honesty, vulnerability and transparency…

Regardless if the origin of the word “Sincerely” didn’t come from these painters and artists, I find the context here to be absolutely stunning and profound. Painters did indeed use wax to cover up blemishes on their canvas and many times without owners ever knowing that they made a mistake.

This is how the Lord has whispered into my heart this week as I approached Pentecost this year. For the first time in fifteen years I am no longer an ordained minister. For the first time in my career as a pastor, I have found a sense of emptiness that had been occupied by busyness and it was all my own doing. There were times that I covered over mistakes on my canvas. Times where I could fool everyone else of my sincerity and yet there I was waxing over the obvious blemishes without ever acknowledging them to anyone, let alone God.

This isn’t some sort of deep confession of moral failure, this is an admission of pride and arrogance. I was the painter covering things up and feigning my innocence. And through it all God wanted and still wants my sincerity.

Many of us approach Pentecost, the day where God’s holy presence literally fell upon those in that upper room with a certain amount of wax covering our canvas. We cover up the mistakes and pretend that God doesn’t see them. Perhaps deep down we know that He does, but as long as we keep fooling everyone else, all is well. But you see that isn’t the way things work with God. He wants us blemishes and all. He desires our vulnerability and our honesty. He wants for us to admit to Him that we haven’t got it all worked out yet. That’s okay. He wants us to stop pretending to be some thing we are not. God longs for us to just take the wax off of our canvas’ and SINCERELY come before Him with contrition and reverence.

So let me ask you today, how sincere is your relationship with God?
How honest are you being with your walk of holiness? How much are you truly striving to live like Jesus every day? I know that there is so much to unpack here. I know that perhaps you will have to do some soul searching. Don’t wait to do it by saying “I’ll get around to it”. Don’t hesitate to come before the Father spiritually naked and without wax. He sees us completely and already knows. So if we truly want to experience Pentecost today in our lives, we MUST be sincere in our minds, hearts and lives.

The Way of Love | Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Federal Way

Something more to ponder on this day of Pentecost.
God Bless you today!

“Catching Fire”…at Pentecost

“They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.” -Acts 2:3


The sequel to “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins hits theaters this weekend.  Some, who have already seen it, call it epic and amazing.  I’ve read the books and the tension and suspense within this story is truly heart pounding.  Without including any spoilers for movie goers, just know that Katnis Everdeen and Peeta Mellark  are once again thrust into the famous, yet brutal “hunger games” because President Snow fears that a revolution is at hand if these two champions continue to live.

Readers of the trilogy and critics alike have proclaimed this to be the new standard of fiction literature for young readers.  Though the themes are dark there is an underlying message of hope, resurrection and love.

The first to catch fire:

The disciples were unsure of what to do next, and so they prayed.  They prayed for the Lord to guide them.  They had witnessed His brutal death on the cross.  They had witnessed his marvelous resurrection and frequent appearances after his return.  But they had also been heart broken when they had witnessed his ascension into heaven.  He was no longer physically with them.  At times they felt alone and unsure of what to do next…and so they prayed.  They prayed in earnest.  They prayed out of desperation and uncertainty. But they also prayed with sincere and utter faith.

Then, something remarkable took place.  On the day of Pentecost, a religious holiday which invited religious travelers from all over the world to Jerusalem, fire broke out.  Not a literal fire with flame and smoke and destruction, but an unquenchable fire of the Holy Spirit. The disciples had prayed to God for what would happen next and when it came, it changed the world.

Those who gathered to witness this amazing event were awe struck that simple fishermen and blue collared workers could speak foreign languages that they neither knew or had the resources to learn before.  But the most astounding thing wasn’t the languages but the message that was being preached.  It was a simulcast message declaring this good news of Messiah!

The disciples may have witnessed the Holy Spirit descend upon them like tongues of fire upon their heads, but it hadn’t stopped just at their heads, but it penetrated the very fibers of their hearts and minds!  God was speaking to the world so that the world would finally hear the truth and the life!  Simple men were chosen to be His conduit, his chosen prophets of a new age.  Fire spread that day…and people were catching it!  Jesus may have left them physically, but within their hearts God’s very breath by way of the Holy Spirit, ignited a revolution unparalleled by any other revolution know to humankind.


We can also catch fire:

This flame has not died.  This fire of the Holy Spirit will not be quenched.  But God is still seeking Soldiers of His army who are willing to step up and fight in this spiritual battle!  Isaiah 54:17 say, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper…” Our God will show up to those who are earnestly seeking!  He will bring the fire to engulf us, purify us and prepare us to declare His divine and holy message!  Are you ready to catch fire?

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