On Sunday May 31, 2020 the Christian church celebrated Pentecost, an important date in the Christian calendar that many say recognizes the birth of the Christian church….Happy Birthday!
Originally Pentecost was a Jewish holiday held 50 days after Passover to celebrate and give thanks for harvested crops. But for Christians, Pentecost represents the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to his disciples when he said:
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever----the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:16-18
Forty days after Jesus’ resurrection and ten days after he ascended into heaven, Jesus’ promise was fulfilled:
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” Acts 2:1-4
Can you just imagine the energy and awe that enveloped that home? So much so that we read that their neighbors heard a commotion and a crowd gathered, astounded to hear Galileans speaking foreign languages. They were amazed, some querying what this all meant and others jeering and suggesting that those filled with the Holy Spirit were drunk…”They are full of sweet new wine…” Acts 2:1-13
After the disciples rebut the suggestion that they are all drunk, Peter delivers a powerful sermon quoting the Old Testament prophet Joel:
“And it will be in the last days,’ God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and daughter will prophesy, and your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams…I will pour out my Spirits in those days…..And I will cause wonders of the heaven above….And it will be that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” Acts 2:14-21
He then reminds the gathered crowd of Jesus’ signs and miracles, and how the wicked hung Jesus on a cross, only to be raised triumphant, announcing that he now sits at the right hand of God the Father as Lord and Messiah. We read that many in the crowd were “cut to the heart”, overcome with emotional anguish at the realization of what they had done. They asked of the disciples: “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit…” And they did. Three thousand souls were changed that day and added to the Kingdom.
Praise God that the Holy Spirit is not just for the first Christians but for all of us today. The manifestation of the Spirit surrounds us for the common good. Some are given a message of wisdom, to others knowledge is imparted. Some receive faith, gifts of healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, and the gift of tongues and interpretation.
“All of these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes to each one, just as he determines.” 1 Corinthians 12:7-11
May our congregation be strengthened and emboldened by the spirit of the living God, today, as we face the challenges before us individually and as a country. Remember, you are not alone.