Today’s 30-minute walk — it’s something new for us — took us four or five blocks to a rather large Presbyterian church in our neighborhood. Kris had been inside the building once, I had just driven by a time or two. At our leisurely pace, we needed about 20 minutes. Once at the front door, we discovered it locked, ending any chance of a tour. Location of the pastor’s office was not evident, so there was no opportunity to meet and greet her. (Try Sunday morning, you say?)

Instead, we sat down for a brief rest on a bench at the front entrance. What captured our attention were the logos or symbols on the glass doors: A dove decends on a cross/figure that is flanked by flame-like images. We talked about the references to Pentacost — the flames — and about the importance of that event to protestant Christians.

Then, reminded of an experience we’d had at Huntington Beach with a roaming Evengelical, Kris offered an intriguing thought. She spoke first of the harrowing existence of early Christians, dodging sword-wielding Roman soldiers in the catacombs below Rome and the kind of belief and flat-out guts that would have required, all to align oneself with proclamations of one charismatic man no one present had ever seen.

Suppose, she then suggested, a man with equal appeal appeared at the beach or a city street, backed by pyrotechnics of his own, and promised redemption if you would but “follow him” in whatever manner he demanded. Suppose further, she went on, that the man’s notions were considered dangerous and controversial and seemingly went counter to accepted and legal practice. What if you knew that active compliance with the man’s “message” could mean swift and distasteful death?

Would you say yes?

Pretty easy to admire the people at Pentacost, not so easy to replicate it in our own time.

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