Our May 23 Sunday worship service is available on video through Facebook. You may view it without being a member of Facebook. We are excited to say that our Sunday 8 & 10:30 am services are open again for in-person worship. Services will continue to be streamed online.
The May 30 Sunday worship service will be held with in-person attendance. We have returned to regular in-person worship services.
We are glad to share our worship with you. Click on “Contact Us” above to find out more about our faith family and what we believe.
Ezekiel 37:1-14 | Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
Acts 2:1-21 | John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
The Day of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, the day when the Holy Spirit is poured out upon the disciples, or as I like to refer to it, the day the disciples finally get their act together. And, I mean that. If you look back over the Gospels, remember, they never fully understand the parables, even sometimes after Jesus explains them. But then again, Mary we are told never understands her son, always “pondering these things in her heart.” The disciples are in good company. They fight among themselves over who will be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Peter, the “Greatest of the Apostles,” gets called Satan by Jesus Himself, over his misunderstandings of Jesus’ mission. In the Garden of Gethsemane they keep falling asleep while Jesus is praying (because they have had too much to drink at the Seder Meal prior to it). When Jesus is crucified, most of them are hiding in a locked room. We are told that only John was present at the actual crucifixion. And even at the empty tomb, they aren’t quite sure what it means. And, again, we are told in John’s Gospel that at least then, John began to believe in the Resurrection. The rest “regarded it as an idle tale” when the women told them. Peter, in particular, will still have a bit of a learning curve. These are the ones who are supposed to carry on Jesus’ message? There are some real doubts here.
It is today, as the Holy Spirit is poured out upon the disciples in the form of flaming tongues (that’s why you are supposed to wear red today), finally, with the Spirit’s help, the disciples have got it (although some of them will still confuse things, but not as badly). So, what exactly transpired? We don’t really know except from the lesson from the Book of Acts. That’s the problem with the Holy Spirit, you never really know what she is doing. And yes, the Holy Spirit has always been described as feminine. It’s in the writing of the Scriptures. The Greek word for spirit is “pneuma,” and that is feminine. This is the same Holy Spirit which is the active agent in Creation – God’s “ruach” (the Hebrew word, “breath, wind, spirit”) going back to Genesis 1. The same Holy Spirit which we receive in our baptisms, of which, we too are instruments for the sake of the Gospel.
I think, we can take notice as to the form which the Holy Spirit takes in the Acts lesson today for some indications. Remember, at Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove – a symbol of peace. Today’s lesson says that the Holy Spirit descends in the form of flaming tongues. That is telling. We always put our emphasis for today on the miracle of Pentecost, the speaking in tongues as many call it. The disciples begin telling the mighty works of God in languages not their own, but which visitors to Jerusalem from many parts of the known world understand. That is the miracle, and the work of the Spirit, declaring the deeds of God’s power. And in terms, words, that the hearers understand! But, we leave out the other part.
What other part? We leave out the flaming part. What does fire have to do with it? Perhaps that is the symbol we need to look to more. Fire has several properties. It gives heat. It warms the body, and in this case, perhaps the soul as well. John Wesley, as he started the Methodist movement wrote of experiencing a “strange warming.” Heat also warms to activity (except in the summer months when we add humidity and we get uncomfortable, if not miserable). The more heat applied to something the more movement there is (at least, according to my chemistry professors). The Holy Spirit moves us to activity, the gospel’s activity. Fire also gives light. In the Church, we have a special word for light, in particular God’s light. We call it Epiphany. The Day of Pentecost, with the coming of the Holy Spirit, is another Epiphany, another reason why the disciples finally understand what Jesus was trying to teach them. They, and we as well, have been enlightened. And there is another quality of fire. It is consuming. As long as there is fuel, and oxygen, it burns and consumes, often spreading to do so. You only have to watch the news when there is a forest fire to see that one. Fire has a tendency to spread. That is also part of the message of Pentecost. The Gospel message is to be spread to all. We are even told that a little bit earlier in Acts 1, “Starting in Jerusalem, then to Judea, then to the whole world.” We who have received the Holy Spirit are to carry on spreading that message of the Gospel to all. What is the fuel? Those who have not heard the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. We are to call them to faith.
As we celebrate the Day of Pentecost, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the birthday of the Church. Be mindful that we carry on the Day of Pentecost in our witness, in our lives, in our faith. We too are disciples of Christ, and have received that same Holy Spirit. We too carry on that work. We are to declare in our lives, in our places, in our time; the mighty deeds of God, God’s acts of power, and what meaning they have found in our lives. We do this as the Holy Spirit gives us guidance and opportunity. And we do this to the glory of our risen Lord Christ, and God our Father. Now, go out in your lives, as the nation begins to reopen as the pandemic subsides, and spread the Good News.