Sunday was Pentecost, and together with churches around the world we celebrate the Holy Spirit in Beijing. I learned that there are two ways to say Pentecost in Chinese. One is 圣灵降临节日 (shènglíngjiànglínjiérì) which means “Holy Spirit Arrives Day.” The other is 五旬节 (wǔxúnjié) which means “five ten-days festival” (i.e. fifty days).
All of the decorations changed to red and doves for the day. I suspect there were some people wondering why there were bird decorations inside. As I was taking the photo above after the service one of my friends asked why they were hanging, so I explained the a dove is a sign for the Holy Spirit. The sermon was from Acts chapter 1, along with many other related passages. She packed a lot into the sermon, but one of the things that struck me was that we need the power of the Holy Spirit. Without that power, we can do nothing. We don’t live and work on our own power, but by the Spirit’s power. She also emphasized that we should thank the Holy Spirit in our prayers. It was pretty amazing to listen to a Pentecost sermon in a foreign language (although I wish that I could understand it all like that first Pentecost)!
One of the songs we sang was this really haunting hymn called “Holy Spirit is Like the Wind.” You can hear the Chinese-style tune in the video and I typed out the English translation of verses 1, 2, and 5 below.
Holy Spirit is like the wind,
Hear it blowing above the trees;
Where the wind blows, the flowers bloom,
Where the wind blows there is life.
May it blow, oh, blow frequently;
Pray, pray that it never wavers.
Where the Spirit is there is springtime,
Like silent flowers their fragrance pour.
Holy Spirit is like a spring,
O’er the mountain a creek of fall;
Or a river flows mightily,
Ever nourish the trees and greens.
May it richly nourish me;
That I can bear fruits abundantly.
Constant growing of fruits of life,
Depends on the life giving dew.
Holy Spirit is like the fire,
Purifying the dregs of life;
Like the bright light that shines our way,
Clearing our sight from doubt and fear,
Purge me Lord, oh, purge me clean.
Guide me thro’ pathways of your love.
May I become Your golden tool,
Abide in Your light and flame of love.
–“Holy Spirit is Like the Wind,” Wei-fan Want 1982, tr. Grace Shangkuan Koo 1994, The New Hymnal #62
This Pentecost, may the Spirit come upon you like the wind, a spring, and fire and may you have life, bear fruit, and abide in the Light!