May each of you have the heart to conceive, the understanding to direct, and the hand to execute works that will leave the world a little better for your having been here. -- Ronald Reagan

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Thoughts on Pentecostal Sunday

Today is Pentecost, the birthday of the Church. Pentecost is the Jewish Feast of Weeks, and comes fifty days after Passover. Since Christianity was formed out of the Jewish faith, those traditional religious observances were incorporated into the new Christian faith; Passover became Easter, the Feast of Weeks became Pentecost. The event of Pentecost came seven weeks after Christ was crucified and resurrected.

Here’s what happened that day:
“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” 
“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.”
This reverses the Tower of Babel, when people built the tower up to be closer to God, when what they were doing was putting themselves before God. God changed their tongues, and when they spoke they couldn’t understand each other.

Now with Pentecost, God changed our tongues again, and we can speak with one voice. On this day there was a wind, the Spirit of God, from the word “ruach” for breath, spirit, wind. The spirit of God was breathed into these people, bringing them back to a spirit filled life. Tongues of fire appear, and this purifies, burns away their sins. They become baptized by the Spirit.

There were about 120 people this started with, and it grew because they began witnessing through the Spirit, making the “Great Commission” possible: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

We’re reminded this day that we speak with one voice; we are to witness and disciple. I’m praying this day that all the divisions of our Faith move closer to one voice. I’m partially thinking here of  Pentecostals, that speak in “tongues”, and how mainstream and non-denominational churches think them a bit odd and out of touch, and are dismissive of them. The Holy Spirit was breathed into all of us.

We all have problems, have our wounds, have our talents and gifts. We all should communicate with God’s Spirit that He gave us. We are the One Holy Church, the Body of Christ. We should witness to that, whether we do it speaking in tongues, singing, writing, or just talking about our faith journey. We all need Love, we all need the Spirit. We have been given it, we need to witness it.

Pastor Jack Hayford, in his book Living the Spirit-Formed Life envisions Christians overcoming our divisions, and unifying with full spirituality:
“…where Jesus Christ is exalted and is central in all, where God’s Word is honored and authoritative in all, where the Holy Spirit is welcome and free to work in every way and where spiritual dynamics and spiritual disciplines are joined by all.” 

We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, looking on, encouraging us to do the will of the Lord. Let us stand worthy, and be faithful to God’s  call….We must not grow weary…!

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