A new wine?
Acts 2: 1-11 (GNT)
1 When the day of Pentecost came, all the believers were gathered together in one place. 2 Suddenly there was a noise from the sky which sounded like a strong wind blowing, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire which spread out and touched each person there. 4 They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak.
5 There were Jews living in Jerusalem, religious people who had come from every country in the world. 6 When they heard this noise, a large crowd gathered. They were all excited, because all of them heard the believers talking in their own languages. 7 In amazement and wonder they exclaimed, “These people who are talking like this are Galileans! 8 How is it, then, that all of us hear them speaking in our own native languages? 9 We are from Parthia, Media, and Elam; from Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia; from Pontus and Asia, 10 from Phrygia and Pamphylia, from Egypt and the regions of Libya near Cyrene. Some of us are from Rome, 11 both Jews and Gentiles converted to Judaism, and some of us are from Crete and Arabia—yet all of us hear them speaking in our own languages about the great things that God has done!”
The passage doesn’t go quite as far as the verse (13) which says ‘These people are drunk!’ But all the evidence of intoxication seems to be there already. Strangers talking together as if they had known each other for years — and such strangers! —people ordinarily considered beyond the pale, if not actually unclean; guard down, inhibitions gone – brother, sister, here’s my hand!
If that was counter-cultural then, how strange to read about it now as we practise our unaccustomed social distancing!
Here are people in a huge crowd literally lit up by the appearance of tongues of flame, and intoxicated by the Holy Spirit.
I have a fanciful picture of the tongues of flame, not like little candles, but a bit like the brandy set alight on a Christmas pudding – a burst of flame leaping up, then hazy, blue, hovering, fading after its moment, but leaving fragrance and flavour behind.
Do we feel intoxicated by the Holy Spirit?
you give us new wine,
wine of the Spirit.
May we take in its warmth,
may it glow through us,
astonish and inspire those we meet –
friend or stranger.