Acts 2: 1-21
Psalm 104:25-35, 37
John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15 or Ezekiel 37:1-14
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be always acceptable in your sight, Oh Lord my strength and my redeemer.
Fifty days after Passover, Jews celebrated the festival of Pentecost.
Originally, it celebrated the wheat harvest,
But it later became the commemoration of the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai.
As the fiftieth day of Easter, Christians maintain this festival:
Altering its focus to a celebration of the Spirit of the risen Christ in the Church.
It’s a festival day:
A party day:
And it’s often thought of as the Church’s birthday.
Like the fire and wind on Mount Sinai:
People gathered on that day of Pentecost:
From all over:
And Experienced the same fire and wind as the spirit descended upon them.
From then on:
The miraculous events, seen in the ministry of Jesus:
Occur in the Church.
Today we celebrate the fire of God’s word:
The fire of God’s spirit:
On the foreheads of the faithful.
In John’s Gospel, we hear of the Spirit bringing the TRUTH of God to the community.
It is the conclusion of the Easter Season:
And the celebration of the beginning of the church.
We hear in the Acts of the Apostles, of that first birthday:
Where there is a sort of party:
A party that encompasses all that Jesus said and taught:
Because the invitation list is insane.
Everyone is there:
Not just Jews:
There’s Galileans, Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Romans, and Arabs.
People are having such a good time, that you would think they were drunk.
But they’re not:
They just received the most incredible party favors of prophecy, visions, and dreams:
As the spirit of God descends upon them:
Just as Jesus promised.
Just as the scriptures had prophesied.
And this is the focus of Pentecost:
The fulfillment of Jesus’ promise made to his disciples before his crucifixion and resurrection:
The promise that believers will not be alone:
It’s a promise that the Spirit has descended.
That the spirit will be the link between God and the believing community:
That the spirit of God:
It’s a promise that the breath that breathes life into our very bones:
Will create, and recreate:
In the church:
In the world:
And in all of creation.
But the celebration of Pentecost sometimes gets lost:
Is sometimes forgotten:
As Christmas and Easter have become more prominent in our culture.
Yet Pentecost is just as important:
Just as significant.
Christians might feel like they have been left hanging out to dry.
Here in the present:
After Jesus has ascended:
Stuck between the past of Jesus’ historical presence,
And the Future of Jesus’ creation of a new heaven and a new earth.
We would be left with nothing in between.
But the event of Pentecost:
The Holy Spirit’s Indwelling with God’s people:
And the “birthday of the Church”
Reminds us that God continues to walk God’s people:
In nearness and in love:
And that through the power of the Holy Spirit:
Jesus continues to be present to each of us in a very real, and tangible way.
Pentecost is the realization of Jesus’ promise:
A promise that is fulfilled every time the incarnate Word comes to us:
In the scriptures, in our interactions, and in our relationships.
A promise that is fulfilled every time the bread of life comes to us in the bread of the altar.
This celebration of Pentecost reminds us that God is with us.
Notice that Pentecost is about RE-Creation:
Not creation itself.
The Holy Spirit already existed well before Pentecost:
The Holy Spirit:
The Spirit of God is that which the whole world was created.
Yet after Pentecost:
Continues to be transformed:
Re-Newed, and re-born.
So while Today, many celebrate the Birthday of the Church:
I think it’s more a celebration of the Church’s “Baptism day”
As the Church:
In a kind of baptism:
Experiences and remembers the renewal of re-creation.
As the church is baptized into both the death and the resurrection of Christ:
As all of these people gathered:
From all different places:
Feel the Spirit on their foreheads.
And actually: the gift of the spirit:
While certainly present in birth and in creation:
Really reaches its fullness at baptism.
Where one is re-created:
Marked as Christ’s own forever.
When we mark the cross on the foreheads of the newly baptized:
We create a new, intimate Pentecost:
As we say that they “have been sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism,
And marked as Christ’s own forever.”
Baptism becomes Pentecost:
Pentecost becomes baptism:
And the baptized are changed:
Just as the Church, on that long ago Pentecostal day was changed and transformed:
Drawing the people more deeply into communion with God and each other:
To the ends of the earth:
In every language.
And this is what I love about Pentecost:
That the story isn’t over:
Even after Christ is resurrected:
Even after he ascends into heaven:
The Spirit is still present, still forming us:
And all of creation groans with the labor pains.
Pains that bring forth new life.
Paul’s letter to the Romans describes this beautifully:
That the Spirit of God re-creates in us:
And in the entire cosmos:
Yet it’s also desperately intimate:
Coming to each one of us:
With “sighs too deep for words.”
And as people of the Spirit:
As the people in which the Spirit literally dwells:
It’s our task to hold onto the continual hope of that re-creation.
Paul puts it well when he says:
“For in hope we were saved.
Now hope that is seen is not hope.
For who hopes for what is seen?
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
Paul’s words about the fruits of the spirit:
Of the Spirit’s sustaining hope:
Gives us permission to hope for something bigger:
Hope for something better:
Hope for a re-created world:
And re-created selves.
On this day of Pentecost we are pushed to dream big dreams:
Dreams for the world:
Dreams for ourselves:
To even strive for the Dream of God.
And as we’ve been talking about in the last few weeks:
There are no limitations:
Everyone is invited:
People of every nation:
Of every language:
The young and the old:
For as the Prophet Joel said:
“your young shall see visions, and your old shall dream dreams.”
On that first baptismal day of the church:
The Spirit gave everyone ability.
The Spirit made everyone visible
When before, the disciples had been in closed rooms,
Behind locked and shut doors:
The invitations were few:
The dreams were locked.
On Pentecost the Spirit blew the doors down,
And sent the disciples into the world:
To re-create the world:
To preach the good news:
To speak to all:
Young and old:
Gentile and Jew:
Egyptians and Asians.
So that everyone might hear the dream of God.
So that everyone:
Guided by the spirit would dream big dreams:
Would feel the labor pains:
As the spirit:
Intimately dwelling within:
Urges God’s beloved to dream and hope:
To dream and hope so big:
That the sighs would be too deep for words.
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