Certain Psalms are traditionally associated with particular feasts in the Jewish calendar. Psalm 29 is one of five, I think, that are associated with a certain celebration, and in the context of the Christian story the association makes for fascinating speculation.
I wonder can you guess which one? Think of the imagery of the Psalm-a thunderstorm, the voice of the Lord, lightning and wind. Or maybe, we are more familiar with the phrase ‘the rushing of a mighty wind’. And if I substituted tongues of fire in the place of lightning bolts, those of you who make a habit of reading the New Testament should be thinking of the upper room at the Feast of Pentecost. The fact that Psalm 29 is a traditional reading at the Feast of Pentecost intrigues me. It leads me to speculate that what we have piously treated as a beatific experience of blessing in that upper room may have been a terrifying experience of a uniquely local thunderstorm. In an enclosed room whose door was locked God unleashes a storm. They were struck by lightning, not tickled by a tongue of fire. They were blown off their feet by a tree-twisting wind. Such was the coming of the Holy Spirit.
I am reminded of those famous words of Annie Dillard:
“Does anyone have the foggiest idea of what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews.”
But there is one final thing, and I’m not sure how to say it.