There was a Lutheran clergy couple who were in search for a dog they could train to be a visitation therapy dog to provide affection and a sense of comfort to those they visited in the nursing homes, hospital or crisis situations.
They researched quite a few breeders when they came upon a breeder who claimed she had a dog that seemed specifically suited for such a ministry.
They decided to see for themselves why this dog was so special.
When they got there, they were amazed at the training this dog had.
On command, the dog would maintain a prayer position with head bowed and front paws together.
On command, the dog could go to a bookshelf and fetch the Bible among the other books.
And on command, the dog could look up scripture verses when they were called out.
The Lutheran clergy couple satisfied with the dog's training adopted the dog to be a partner in their visitation ministry.
Their new visitation therapy dog was quite a hit.
People responded warmly to the dog and took great delight in its tricks.
Yet, on one particular visit, even though the dog prayed with the church member and had looked up her favorite Bible passages, the church member wondered aloud what other tricks it could do.
"Yes, that is quite impressive," she said after the dog had just opened the scriptures to the 23rd Psalm, "but can it do normal dog tricks."
The clergy couple looked at each other and replied, "We don't know."
They tried some commands to see how the dog would respond.
On command, the dog could sit.
On command, the dog could shake.
Yet, when given the command "HEEL," the dog jumped on the bed, sat on the woman's chest, looked her square in the eye, and then lifted his paw to place it in the middle of her forehead.
"Oh my," she cried in shock, "that is not a Lutheran dog, I think you got yourself a Pentecostal!"
For some of us, when we hear the term Pentecostal, we think of persons who belong to a tradition that practices healings and participates in worship filled with boisterous song, loud praying and even speaking in tongues. When we hear the term Pentecostal, we do not think of more mainline traditions of Christianity,
and we certainly do not think of ourselves.
Yet, the truth is we all come from a Pentecostal tradition, and we are called to be a Pentecostal People. The Pentecost experience is not just an event that we can read about in Acts 2. It is not just the story of the birth of the Church that has little or nothing to do with us today. If we think of Pentecost in this way, we miss the power and purpose of this celebration in the Church.
Through the Holy Spirit, we can be enlightened, excited, encouraged, enlivened, empowered, equipped, and emboldened to bringing forth a rebirthing of the Church as Christ has called us to be.
I believe we are called to be a Pentecostal who knows to the core of our being the Spirit is God's continuing language of love which is needed now more perhaps than ever before...to inspire us out of our apathy, to embolden us out of our discouragement, to bring joyfulness out of our despair, to restore a sense of hopefulness and optimism out of our cynicism and pessimism and to provide guidance and direction out of our rudderless state we often find ourselves in.
Trusting in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit may make us a Pentecostal People!
Blessings, Rev. Shana Johnson, Conference Minister