The event at Pentecost is the happening that begins Christianity. It is our shortest festival because in fact, it happened in the blink of an eye. We celebrate it over three days to fully unfold this special moment when something changed in those human beings who had walked with Christ, learned from him, felt him as part of themselves. They did all this as if in a dream. But at the moment of the fiftieth day, Pentecost, which has long been a festival of harvest for the Jewish people, suddenly they woke up, they caught fire and were now able to awaken to the true gifts they had received from the Risen One. The harvest of this festival is the rising up of the individual flame in each one!
Why flame? The picture of this moment when the Holy Spirit comes to them is pictured in flames above their heads. This is a picture for what we say when we make the third of the three crosses…we say: the Spirit God enlighten us. Flame enlightens. The light that comes from a single flame is remarkable. A single candle can light an entire room!
Flames also bring heat—intense heat that transforms all earthly material. We hear of this fire in the gospels in the many words of Christ telling us that all branches that no longer bear fruit—that carry no more future in them—shall be gathered up and burned. Are they gone? They are transformed! The forces of growth that were poured into them is returned and strengthened in the remaining branches which might bear fruit. It is a kind of focusing of creative power.
So also when we are enflamed for something, when we burn for something. Fire is also a property of soul. Our hearts can burn, and even our whole being can burn for something. We call this fire LOVE. Love focuses us, shows us what is most important. Where we love, we live fully. Where we love, we heal and transform.
Rudolf Steiner, who dedicated his life and work to the liberation of the human spirit, wrote from his deathbed a kind of last will and testament, saying:
I want with cosmic spirit to enthuse each human being that a flame they may become and fiery will unfold the essence of their being. The other ones, they strive to take from cosmic waters what will extinguish flames and pour paralysis into all inner being. O joy, when the human being’s flame is blazing, even when at rest. O bitter pain, when the human thing is put in bonds, when it wants to stir.
Jesus Christ speaks of the transformation that fire brings when he says in Luke’s Gospel: I came to throw fire upon the earth; how I wish it were already kindled!
The human being is not meant to remain well-behaved and cool. We kindle these flames at the altar in offering that we may call the Holy Spirit down to earth, into our very being, to awaken in the light and be enflamed by the fire of the spirit. We seek to birth the fire of love, which is creative of being, being that carries the seed of the eternal in it. Filled with the Spirit of God, we are to become healing spirits for the earth and all creation.