When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force―no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them. Acts 2:1-4.For a for a few years beginning when I was about five years old, my family attended a charismatic nondenominational church. People danced and sang, fell before the Lord, and prayed intently for the rapture. It was a little disconcerting.
One of my earliest church memories is of people speaking in tongues. This was a frequent occurrence at the church, to the point that in my Sunday school class, we had a workshop dedicated to helping those who did not know how to speak in tongues to learn. I did not know how to speak in tongues, so my classmates and I prayed together that God would give me the ability. I never did get that particular gift.
I mentioned to a few Quakers that today is Pentecost. They said they didn't really know what that meant, so I briefly described the story of the Holy Spirit descending on the apostles, allowing them to speak in tongues. They said, "Oh, Pentecost, like Pentecostals."
It makes me feel a little sad that it seems like one group gets to be associated with Pentecost, and that in my circle of liberal Friends, those associations are generally negative. Although they wouldn't come out and say it, I think the assumption is that all people who speak in tongues are closed-minded conservatives.
I still do not speak in tongues, but I see many parallels between Pentecost and Quaker worship. We gather and wait in a house for the Holy Spirit to come upon us, and we speak as the Spirit prompts us. We may not literally see tongues of fire above each others' heads, but we do believe that there is the Light of God in every person.
I sometimes think that Quakers are too comfortable in our silence, that we are not paying attention the call of the Spirit in our lives. I pray that when the Spirit gives us words to speak, that we will be bold and share our good news, so that others will look at us and ask why.