Since today is Pentecost, a day we set aside to celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit, our worship is a little different. The church is decorated in red, we're confirming James at our 10:30 am worship, and we lit the baptismal font on fire. We're joining with Christian communities all around the world by stepping into the story of the Spirit descending onto the disciples as depicted in the book of Acts. We, together, are playing with tongues of fire. Today's first reading (Joel 2:22-32) is not the reading assigned for this day, but it is a text quoted in our story from Acts. When Peter realized the diverse community around him, regardless of their native languages, could understand him, he told them about Jesus. And Peter did that by quoting from the book of Joel.

The book of Joel is, compared to other books, pretty short. Its three chapters are attributed to a prophet named Joel who lived sometime in the fifth or fourth century BCE. Joel regularly quoted other biblical books, even obscure ones (aka Obadiah) that we rarely read. The book of Joel is filled with dramatic images including an entire army of locusts. It's also a book rooted in a very specific promise: God is at work in the world, and we see that through the gift of the God's Spirit.

God's Spirit is more than just a thing. God's Spirit is an energy, a life force, that moves in, through and around us. The Holy Spirit is how God is a verb in the world. And God's "verb-ing," God's activity, is incredibly inclusive. As we hear in Joel, God's Spirit will be given to sons, daughters, old, young, free and enslaved. These verses are not meant to describe the limit of who will receive God's Spirit. Rather, they are signs of the way God reaches out to everyone, regardless of the ways we choose to categorize each other. God's generosity is manifested in the inclusive diversity of who God names as God's beloved. Through the gift of baptism and faith, we are just one small vision of how diverse God's kingdom truly is. To really see what God is about, we are called to step back and take a look at the church worldwide. The amazing thing about the Spirit is not only that it continues to inspire the church to be Jesus in the world. The Spirit has also made sure that this church includes even you.