It's Pentecost PDF Print E-mail
Written by Pat Ireland   
Thursday, 26 June 2014 20:59

First Presbyterian Church, Cottonwood Falls, KS

It’s Pentecost: Acts 2: 1-41

Rev. Pat Ireland, Pastor

June 8, 2014

First Lesson:   Numbers 11:24-29  (CEB)

24 So Moses went out and told the people the Lord’s words. He assembled seventy men from the people’s elders and placed them around the tent. 25 The Lord descended in a cloud, spoke to him, and took some of the spirit that was on him and placed it on the seventy elders. When the spirit rested on them, they prophesied, but only this once. 26 Two men had remained in the camp, one named Eldad and the second named Medad, and the spirit rested on them. They were among those registered, but they hadn’t gone out to the tent, so they prophesied in the camp. 27 A young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.”

28 Joshua, Nun’s son and Moses’ assistant since his youth, responded, “My master Moses, stop them!”

29 Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? If only all the Lord’s people were prophets with the Lord placing his spirit on them!”

 

The Birthday of the Church

It was seven weeks since Jesus died.  But the disciples knew Jesus was still alive.

One day the disciples were all together with many other people.  It was the day of Pentecost, and important time for Jewish people

Then something very strange happened.  Some said there was a sound of a strong wind.   Others said there were little bits of fire dancing around among the disciples.

The strangest part was that the disciples began to talk in new ways.  Nobody was sure what kind of languages they spoke.   Even the disciples were sure about the new words they heard themselves saying.

But others understood.  “Hey!” someone said, “I come from a place where we speak a different language.  How come I can understand what he’s saying?”

People were there form many faraway places.  They understood many different languages.  Yet they could each understand what the disciples were saying.

What is going on here?” people asked.

“You drank too much wine!” somebody said to Peter.

“No, said Peter.   Then he stood up and talked to all the people who had come together for Pentecost.

“My friends,” said Peter, “we’re not drunk.” Something very important has happened here.”   Then Peter told them the whole story, beginning many years ago with Abraham and Sarah, right up until the time of Jesus.  The Peter told them how Jesus was God’s Messiah. (Chosen One)

Peter explained that from now on, God’s Spirit would be with everyone who believed in Jesus.   We would not be able to see Jesus alive again the way the disciples had seen him   But Jesus would be alive in our hearts.   Peter called it “the Holy Spirit.”

“What should we do?”  Someone asked.

“Be sorry for the wrong things you have done,” said Peter. “Believe that God rally loves you.”

Many people said, “Yes, we want to do that.”  So they were baptized in water.  Being baptized was a way of saying, “I want to live in God’s way.”

The disciples were happy.   Now they knew what Jesus wanted them to do.   Jesus wanted the disciples to help everyone know about God’s love.

So the disciples went to many places.  They told people about Jesus and about God’s promise.

Many people came to the disciples and said, “Yes, I believe that Jesus is God’s Messiah   I want to live in God’s way.

Soon there were many people in many places who knew about Jesus.  These people got together to help each other, to eat together, to remember the things that Jesus said, and to talk about living in God’s way.  When people came together like this, they called it the church.

That’s why sometimes we call Pentecost the birthday of the church!  There are two symbols we use for Pentecost.  One is Wind. The other is Fire.   Our tradition in this congregation is to re-enact both by dancing with streamers and we have a special song we use.  You have heard it before.

Acts 2 1-41 (CEB)

2 When Pentecost Day arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound from heaven like the howling of a fierce wind filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be individual flames of fire alighting on each one of them. 4 They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak.

5 There were pious Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd gathered. They were mystified because everyone heard them speaking in their native languages. 7 They were surprised and amazed, saying, “Look, aren’t all the people who are speaking Galileans, every one of them? 8 How then can each of us hear them speaking in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, and Elamites; as well as residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the regions of Libya bordering Cyrene; and visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism), 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the mighty works of God in our own languages!” 12 They were all surprised and bewildered. Some asked each other, “What does this mean?” 13 Others jeered at them, saying, “They’re full of new wine!”

14 Peter stood with the other eleven apostles. He raised his voice and declared, “Judeans and everyone living in Jerusalem! Know this! Listen carefully to my words! 15 These people aren’t drunk, as you suspect; after all, it’s only nine o’clock in the morning! 16 Rather, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: 17 In the last days, God says;?I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young will see visions. Your elders will dream dreams. 18  Even upon my servants, men and women,?I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will cause wonders to occur in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and a cloud of smoke. 20 The sun will be changed into darkness,? and the moon will be changed into blood, before the great and spectacular day of the Lord comes. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to these words! Jesus the Nazarene was a man whose credentials God proved to you through miracles, wonders, and signs, which God performed through him among you. You yourselves know this. 23 In accordance with God’s established plan and foreknowledge, he was betrayed. You, with the help of wicked men, had Jesus killed by nailing him to a cross. 24 God raised him up! God freed him from death’s dreadful grip, since it was impossible for death to hang on to him. 25 David says about him:  I foresaw that the Lord was always with me;because he is at my right hand I won’t be shaken. 26 Therefore, my heart was glad and my tongue rejoiced.? Moreover, my body will live in hope,  27 because you won’t abandon me to the grave,?    nor permit your holy one to experience decay.28 You have shown me the paths of life;your presence will fill me with happiness.

29 “Brothers and sisters, I can speak confidently about the patriarch David. He died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this very day. 30 Because he was a prophet, he knew that God promised him with a solemn pledge to seat one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Having seen this beforehand, David spoke about the resurrection of Christ, that he wasn’t abandoned to the grave, nor did his body experience decay.[ 32 This Jesus, God raised up. We are all witnesses to that fact. 33 He was exalted to God’s right side and received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit. He poured out this Spirit, and you are seeing and hearing the results of his having done so. 34 David didn’t ascend into heaven. Yet he says,  The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right side, 35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’

36 “Therefore, let all Israel know beyond question that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified,  both Lord and Christ.”   37 When the crowd heard this, they were deeply troubled. They said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is for you, your children, and for all who are far away—as many as the Lord our God invites.” 40 With many other words he testified to them and encouraged them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptized. God brought about three thousand people into the community on that day.

Pentecost is sometimes called, the Birthday of the Church because it is the Holy Spirit that prompts, that first breathes life into the church and empowers it   Within that context, somewhere this week, I was reading about how we need to open and accept birthday gifts and how they change as we grow.

For example a young toddler may be given a riding toy they can scoot around  on to give them mobility.  They have to learn to use it.  Later they may receive a tricycle and learn to peddle.   Rowan and Kiran then got a scoot bike – two wheels but no pedals so they could learn to balance.   Now they both ride bicycles.  Each new gift prompted growing and learning.   It is not a bad metaphor for how we receive the gifts of the Spirit.

Let us Pray:  Holy Spirit of the Risen One, guide the words of my mouth and the medications of our hearts that we might receive the gifts you offer this congregation.  Amen

I was reading the blog of Luther seminary professor David Lose at Working Preacher.com.  It was called Pentecost Paradoxes.  He brought a new (at least to me) perspective to Pentecost that I want to share with you.   Let me introduce it with this short video that he graciously shared with this readers.

Script :      Go ahead admit it.  Your wondering, about the future.  Maybe even worrying

Do we even have a future? Will our children have faith?

Will our church survive?       Will our faith have children?

There are so many challenges:  Money, Divisions, Arguments

We’re getting older;      How are we going to pay the bills?

We don’t know the people next door anymore

Why would they want to come to our church?

The people pass by. We don’t know them.  No one comes in.

They are outside, we are inside.

And so we wait, and watch and worry.  But we don’t know what to do.

Won’t somebody come and help us?

These are BIG questions

But We are not the first to ask them.

Did you know there’s a story in the bible that is exactly like that?

Do you remember?  There are only a few left.

People pass by outside.

They are inside: waiting, watching and they don’t know what to do.

And THEN it happens

Wind, Fire, Noise and [silence]

What just happened?

No one came and took away their problems

Instead the Spirit comes and creates a new one

That’s right.  The Holy Spirit shows up and creates a problem.

They can’t stay inside.  They have to go out and preach,

serve, Care, witness, teach,  Pray, invite, Love

They just can’t help it.  It was Pentecost

So I’ve got bad news … and good news:

The bad news is there is not one come to fix your problems.

The good news is the solutions you seek are all around you.

You have strength, and courage, and compassion, and a story to tell.

Our problem isn’t money, or divisions, or arguments,

Our problem is:  We’ve got a story to tell and we can’t help but tell it.

Now image: one person reaching out to another and then another, and another

To tell, share, listen, love, pray, teach, preach, be, feed, listen, hold, pray

Why? Because we can’t help it.    It’s Pentecost.

Professor Lose’ point, of course, is that the Holy Spirit is not our personal agent and problem fixer, but is God’s agent, working always for God’s goods purposes as lived out in Jesus.  That’s why after the resurrection we call it the Spirit of the Risen Christ.  As a divine spirit it is working for divine purposes, just as Jesus lived his life for a divine purpose - even though it got him crucified.  Now that was a problem!  But by the power of the Spirit it became a new beginning.

Perhaps it is why we often resist the Spirits movement in our lives and our community.  It creates problems.   It identifies issues we’d rather ignore and calls us to respond with compassion and justice.

The Spirit has been moving among us this season.  We see it moving in the eagerness of young children as they share their gifts and spirit with us.  And we see it in the warm smiles of older adults who gratefully receive the children’s energy and wonder - even when they are less than perfect!  We smile on them as God smiles on us as we seek to engage the Kingdom Spirit in our midst.

We have long been concerned about the hungry children in our midst, especially during the summer when there is no school lunch.   We’ve been involved with various approaches to address the need, including preparing meals for other groups, and adding a lunch component to Camp United when it was offered.  We’ve done out bit.   But the Spirit wouldn’t let it drop.

This year it has moved among us providing a new vision.  At the same time we had a visit from Presbytery and among other things, they encouraged us to apply for a small Mission Grant to make it happen.

So, here’s the Pentecost for this congregation for 2014.

Some of the women got to talking about the kids who hang out at the public pool all summer.   Some, of course, come with parents and grandparents and stay for only an hour or so.   Others are at the park early in the day playing and enjoying the activities provided by the county Rec. Commission.  Many of these kids’ parents are working at the factory or in Emporia and they are pretty much on their own.  If they have money they purchase stuff at the pool, but seldom have a healthy lunch or snack.

So the ladies got to thinking.   Wouldn’t it be great if they have a good, nutritious lunch?   How could we do that?  They settled, realistically, on a sack lunch provided once a week at the shelter house in Swope Park.  These lunches could be easily assembled at church and carried over in a cooler and given to children who wanted them.

That was a start and amid the good humor of the planning they dubbed themselves playfully Presby Picnic Pool Pals.  Try saying that quickly several times!  Of course, some will go with the meals and be present to interact, play and talk to the kids as Jesus did.  Maybe they’d even listen to a story… Who knows?

But that seemed a small thing, so then they thought how about a mid afternoon snack.  So, on Monday a couple folks will take to the pool the bags of trail mix that some of you helped assemble before church.   We hope to prepare serve snacks every Monday at 3pm and to leave non-perishable snacks for Brenda, the pool manager, to give to the kids who have no money or seem hungry.

We have no idea what to expect in terms of response.  The team decided to prepare 25 meals the first week.  And flyers are already at the pool, both posted and sent home with the kids.  We really so have the cart before the horse.  The plan is being implemented even as it is being developed.  That’s the kind of problem the Holy Spirit is good at creating!   Session has been asked to designate our share of  this mornings Pentecost offering to support this project and a mission grant is being submitted to ask for Presbyteries help.   In the meantime we’ll use our local deacon’s funds.

You are all encouraged to help by preparing snacks for 40 kids on Monday, non-perishable snacks for distribution during the week, help with preparing sack lunches and/or donations of food, time or donations to the deacon’s fund.   We are confident that this is by the Spirit’s leading and we are going ahead full steam.

After all:  It’s Pentecost!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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