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Surprised by Pentecost is a series of 8 devotional reflections from the book of Acts. The Spirit was given at Pentecost, but the miracle didn’t end there. Time and again, the Spirit surprised the early church by showing up in unexpected places and in unexpected people.

“Rather, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young will see visions. Your elders will dream dreams. Even upon my servants, men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.’”

 (Acts 2:16-18, CEB)

Two children were having a conversation as they made their way toward the sanctuary in their church building one morning. While they walked, one child said to the other, “We are going to see where God lives.” They weren’t trite words. They weren’t the words of someone who thinks they’ve got God figured out. They were words filled with awe and anticipation. Imagine that: if we only walk a few more steps, we will get to see where God lives. Could such a thing be so?

From my earliest childhood years, I knew that God could not be contained by a building or a place. I experienced the presence of God in worship sometimes, but I also experienced the breath of God in the rustling of the trees in the wind. God’s presence cannot be contained or controlled, but it seems that much of church history has been spent trying to do just that. Does God reside on a particular mountain? Does God show up if we keep all the right rules? Are there certain people God prefers? 

On Pentecost, when the Spirit appeared as divided tongues of fire and rested on the people, the crowd was confused that they each heard about Jesus in their own language. They were perplexed that this group of Galileans was speaking in a way that everyone could understand. They were surprised that the Spirit was for everyone. I think this is why Peter quotes the prophet Joel to the crowd. The Spirit of God is not only for the young or for those who are farther along in years. The Spirit of God is not only for men or for women or for people who fit a certain set of criteria. The Spirit of God cannot not be contained by social status, or class, or nationality, or popular opinion. The Spirit of God is for everyone.

If we asked Pentecost the question, “Where does God live?” Pentecost might answer us that God lives here. The Spirit is given to you, and to me, and somehow between all of us, we bring the Spirit with us everywhere we go. The children who eagerly sought to find where God lived as they went into the sanctuary were not wrong. God does live there, too, but not because the building contains God. Pentecost teaches us that we cannot contain God or figure out exactly where God lives. Somehow, mysteriously, and in a way I don’t think we’ll ever be able to describe fully, God lives here – in you, and in me, and in us.

If you are reading the story of Pentecost in Acts 2, and you aren’t sure you can believe it, the Spirit of God is for you.

If you have gathered closely to listen for the voice of Jesus, the Spirit of God is for you.

If you’ve been close to God, but now you feel far away, the Spirit of God is for you.

Where does God live? Within you. And no structures, powers, authorities, or rules can make that any less so. 

God of Pentecost, sometimes I see you and experience you, and I know that you are with me. At other times in my life, I struggle to know you are with me and for me. Remind me today, no matter where I find myself in my faith, that the Spirit was given for me, too. Amen.

Originally published by OBA on Our Bible App, Inc, a program of Intersections. To view this post, and others in the series through the Our Bible App, check it out here: