The Joyful Chaos of Life in the Spirit

Celebrating Spirit at Pentecost
Dark reds and golds of sunset with a park bench and tree in silhouette. Image courtesy of Lars Nissen via Pixabay.

Pentecost is the "birthday of the church" and it is a celebration of the Holy Spirit.


By now, you probably all know that Pentecost is my favorite church holiday. And it is the only holiday in the Protestant tradition that has not been co-opted by Hallmark or capitalism. It remains a day for Christians to celebrate without the intrusion of social expectations.

This isn’t the reason I love this day, though. For me, it is all about celebrating the mystery and power of the Holy Spirit. Somehow, in the aftermath of Jesus’ crucifixion, the Spirit came to the early followers. We don’t know how or even when.

John’s Gospel tells us it was a week or so after Easter and Jesus breathed on the disciples the Holy Spirit. Luke-Acts tells us that it was on the day of Pentecost, a spring harvest festival, that the Spirit came with words and fire. Either way, she has been upholding the church ever since.

Many people have told me over the years that they relate the most to Spirit. They tell me that the traditional Father God is too judgmental and even changing it to Creator God doesn’t make God accessible for them. And Jesus is complicated. So few people like to claim Jesus as the aspect of God they relate best to because of the damage done by the more conservative side of our tradition.

This leaves Spirit. People tell me how much they love Spirit. And I am always surprised. Spirit is not tame and quiet, gentle and supportive. Spirit was present when the world was created. Spirit ensured that our spiritual ancestors did what was needed (think Abraham, Moses, Deborah, Mary…) Spirit has held church together in spite of what we human beings have gotten up to in God’s name. Spirit is not something to be all warm and fuzzy about.

She is power. She is change. She is joy unimaginable. She is strength. She is unpredictable. She is creative. She is world-changing. She is life-changing. She is Trouble.

Wherever the Holy Spirit is, there is bound to be disruption and chaos. And if we are really paying attention, then there will be radical change. Spirit is, among other things, a trouble-maker. When Spirit shows up, she stirs us up and insists on creating something new – always.

In the days around Pentecost, I invite you to reflect on Spirit. Who or what is she in your life? In the life of Living Table? Where have you encountered her and what was the result? Is she your trouble-making friend or a guest your are reluctant to welcome because she always causes a fuss?

Whatever you think about the Holy Spirit and how she shows up in your life, in the life of Living Table, or in the world at large, I hope you will join us for a celebration of her on Sunday (May 28, 2023). Wear red and/or other fiery colors as we embrace the joyful chaos of life in the Spirit.

And there just might be cake…(What’s a birthday party without cake?)

About Rachael Keefe

Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ. She was called to Living Table in 2015 after serving in many varied ministry settings since her ordination in 1992. She holds graduate degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary and Andover Newton Seminary at Yale (formerly Andover Newton Theological School). Her ministry and leadership often center around advocacy and accessibility. Her writing has been published by Chalice Press, The Christian Century, Red Letter Christians, Working Preacher, RevGalBlogPals, and others. She is grateful to be in ministry with Living Table today.

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2 thoughts on “The Joyful Chaos of Life in the Spirit”

  1. It needs to be a big cake, because there would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,900+ candles.

    And yes: the Spirit is where I feel the most life, and hope. You say “She is power. She is change. She is joy unimaginable.” And “She is trouble,” which I will assume is the kind of good trouble Sen. John Lewis spoke of. Bring it (her) on!

    • Doug,
      Yes, it would be a whole lot of cake to hold all those candles. I’m thinking more symbolic, though edible , cake.

      And yes, “good trouble” as the late senator would say.


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