June 13, 2019
Scripture Acts 2:1-21
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
Acts 2:1-2, 4 NRSV
Congregations in many mainline denominations look forward to Pentecost every year. The worship space and various areas of the campus are decked out in red, and symbols of God’s Spirit are placed strategically around the grounds, education areas, and sanctuary. So, you might ask “What is this all about?” Well, we can be trite about it all and label this as the “birthday” of the church called by Christ. That part is somewhat true, since this was the initial activity that put the church in motion, and in a big way! But, more importantly it was a nearly indescribable event of transformation.
Humble individuals who had followed Jesus suddenly had new powers of speech and a new presence. They went boldly proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all of Jerusalem and then into the world controlled by the Roman Empire and beyond. From that moment of God’s amazing gift of the Spirit, everything changed! There is a lot written about this, but this description in Acts is about as close as we will ever get to an eyewitness account of the events. And, through the centuries it remains a mysterious and unexpected moment in time.
That should not surprise us, because it is part of the whole mystery that is faith and love and charity and hope that form the story of Christ. After all, the Risen Christ promised this continuing presence of God’s Spirit (Matt. 28:18-20, Luke 24:49, John 16:12-14). This is the key, because God’s Spirit never leaves us. Indeed, when we open ourselves to God, we encounter God’s activity on a regular basis. Once that happens, we are changed as well.
Nothing was ever the same after this day recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. Slaves and peasants were speaking boldly and truthfully as they lived out the teachings of Jesus. They were transformed into new people: new creations, if you will.
So, this is the reason we celebrate Pentecost: because each one of us can participate with those early followers of Christ. God still reaches out to us. And, all we need do is take it in, let it dwell within us and, through the gifts of God, believe the truth contained within it! That truth is not something that comes from your pastor, your best friend, or the most popular evangelist of the day. It is the work of God. It is the work of God’s Spirit.
It is the mystery that is the faith, the work, the worship, the living ministry of the church of Jesus Christ.