Sunday, June 4, 2017

Pentecost event 2017 John 20:19-23

Gracious God - bless now the words of my lips and the
      meditations of our hearts.  Breath your Spirit into us and
      grant that we may hear and in hearing be led in the way you
      want us to go.  Amen.

Breathe your spirit into us. What does that even mean.??
today is a significant day -
   this is the day on which the first believers came alive in their faith,
       the day when the Rock upon which Christ planted his church began to
       support and uphold an incredible new life -
a life that has existed since the world began,
   but which was poured out in a special fashion
       and took on flesh in you and me
much as it took life in Jesus, the son of Mary, the son of God
so long ago.

Pentecost is an event that the world has long been promised and which the people of God have long awaited. With that let me say…

Dzien dobry (Polish), Buenos dias (Spanish), Nyado delek (Tibetan), Endermen aderkh (armarhic), Bari Luys (Armenian), Kali Mera (Greek), Shubh Prabhat (Hindi).  I have just announce good morning or good day in several languages those languages were ( as listed above)….  But what has that to with today?? Todays readings have several Miracles they speak about.  But before we can get into the Gospel I would like to set the scene.

We are in the Jerusalem of Jesus’ time it is 50 days after Good Friday.  Actually the name of the Holiday is a Jewish reference. Pentecost is actually a Jewish Holiday a festival of early harvest that occurred fifty days after Passover also known as the festival of Weeks, Shavuot, or the day to commemorate the giving of the Ten Commandments.

It is interesting to note that Christ said in Mathew “Don't misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the Law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.”

Then Later in John Jesus foretells of the coming of the spirit…"When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Creator, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Creator, she will testify about me.”

Today is Pentecost and for us that's the birthday of the church,
when the Holy Spirit, the very presence of God came into the
church and gave the church life.

Peter has just addressed the believers about 120 in all and they elected Mathias to replace Judas. This day it is said they were all gathered in one place.  We must assume this means the 120 which acts does say includes certain women I would venture to say this means All men, women and children, slaves and free for the writer would only pay attention to and need to mention the men the fact that certain women were mentioned we can safely assume that those are the women we hear about through the story of Jesus ministry, who were influential not only Jesus’ life but the community as it grew.

It is reported that suddenly there was a roar as of a rushing wind.  It was so loud that the people who had gathered in Jerusalem heard the noise and gathered around the house.  Imagine, hearing the sound of a rushing wind and yet there is none…no wind…no movement, just the sound, wouldn’t you want to see what was happening.

So gathered outside are Jewish people from Jerusalem and those who traveled back for the holiday. There are Greeks and Romans, there were people from what we know as Libya and Egypt, there were probably traders from the Far East as well as Macedonia, People from the entire known world.  Some had come for Passover and just stayed till Pentecost others were there just for that festival, some were there just to make a living and a few soldiers were probably ordered to be there.  There were many people and many languages.

So as the crowd is gathering outside those in the house are hearing the same thing it sounds like a mighty wind is coming and it is all around them.  They are wondering if they are under attack of some kind or if the world as they know it is ending.  Suddenly what appears as fire in the room divides and alights on each one’s head.  They are filled with the spirit and they began to speak in other languages, and they go out to greet the crowd.

Pentecost is the reversal of what occurred at the Tower of Babel when, because of Human arrogance, because we chose to prove we were just as Good if not better than God we became unable to understand one another and then a mighty wind came up and blew us to the four corners of the world.

Do you hear the similar elements here, there was a sound of rushing wind but it did not disperse the people but caused them to be gathered? At Pentecost each heard the disciples proclaim the news in their own tongue.  I have always found this one of the most significant passages.  It is not just that the Holy Spirit allowed the disciples to speak languages of all the known nations at the time but that the spirit made it also possible for all to hear and understand the message of God in their own tongue.  The message that there is new life and a new way to be in the world. A way free from guilt and persecution for as it was proclaimed at the days of creation it is being proclaimed again; God saw all things under the heavens and proclaimed them all GOOD!

Those 120 disciples were just a handful of rather ordinary men and women, a few fishermen, a couple of housewives, a former tax collector, a few farmers, some children and some servant girls. Yet through these ordinary people God built a Church which has lasted now for over 2,0000 years. In less than 300 years, that small, insignificant Jewish sect became the official religion of the entire Roman Empire and today the Church of Jesus Christ circles the globe and numbers some one billion members.

How did they do it? What happened to those 120 followers in the year 30 A.D. on the day we call Pentecost? Those 120 followers that came in contact with the unknown God. Yes, that is right, those 120 followers experienced  the unknown God.  They experienced what was beyond words of human expression, what was beyond human experience. They were baptized by God’s Spirit, or the Holy Spirit.

For many Christians the events of Pentecost, the events of God’s spirit coming is one of the 4 major festivals of the church year. Today we celebrate the coming of God’s spirit, the Holy Spirit into the lives of men and woman, today we celebrate the birthday of the church. But, if you didn’t come to church today, if you maybe hadn’t read your daily devotional booklet, or perhaps if you hadn’t looked at the church calendar, you would have not known this was a major festival of the church year. Today is just as important as Christmas, just as important as Easter, just as important as the festival of the Ascension, but for some unknown reason, this festival, this holiday in the church year goes by, for many, almost unnoticed. Why is that?

Maybe because we have a difficult time getting a handle on the Spirit of God or maybe, we don’t understand what exactly happened on this day. And maybe, talk about the Spirit is not so sweet as talk about a baby born in a manager, angels singing in the heavens, gifts being passed about and shepherds tending their sheep on quiet hillsides. It is definetly not as cute as a bunny delivering candy, and not as pretty as colored eggs.

Maybe Pentecost doesn’t get so much attention because we have not found a way to commercialize it, we don’t turn Pentecost into a cultural extravaganza, or into a national holiday, so it goes by, in most places, unnoticed.

But, this festival, this holiday is very important for the life of the church, for your life and my life. The Spirit of God is not something we should fear, nor something we should ignore, but the Holy Spirit is God’s presence in this world. It is the same presence that was moving over the face of the earth when God created this world in which we live. It is that same presence that took the form of a baby born in a manager in Bethlehem, it is the same spirit of God that walked the earth for 33 years, teaching, healing, proclaiming the love of God for all people embodied in Jesus Christ. And now, today, it is that same spirit that is with us, it is God’s spirit alive and well on this earth, working through God’s people, the church, to bring love and forgiveness into the brokenness of this world.

Today we celebrate God’s Power in the form of spirit at work here in this church and our world. Now
Power can be used in at least two ways: it can be unleashed, or it can be harnessed. The energy in ten gallons of gasoline, for instance, can be released explosively by dropping a lighted match into the can. Or it can be channeled through the engine of a Datsun in a controlled burn and used to transport a person 350 miles. Explosions are spectacular, but controlled burns have a lasting effect, staying power.

The Holy Spirit works both ways. At Pentecost, she exploded on the scene; Her presence was like "tongues of fire" (Acts 2:3). Thousands were affected by one burst of God’s power. But She also works through the church--the institution, here the Holy Spirit’s power is working for the long haul. Through worship, fellowship, and service, Christians are provided with staying power.

God’s Holy Spirit comes quietly, it comes in slowly, but it comes to us with enough power so that we might do the work that God has called and leads each of us to do. There is a power, a force and for many an untapped force in each of our lives, that is the Holy Spirit. Many times it is not dramatic, it does not cause us to do dramatic things, but it is there to give us the power to live the kind of lives, to be the kind of people that God intended us to live and be.

The nature of this spirit empowers us to live first of all pointing to Christ. The kind of life God intends for us to live points not to us, not to our accomplishments, but to the Lord of Life, Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit works with our spirit so that we might experience the righteousness of Christ in our lives.

It is this Spirit that comes into our lives, into the church to allow us to spread God’s message of love to all people. It is this Spirit which points not to itself, but to Christ. It is this Spirit which allows us to point not to ourselves, but to Christ. It is this Spirit which makes the church, the Body of Christ, the most unique organization on the face of the earth.

The church is the most amazing organization in the world! And my friends you and I are part of it, not because we did anything, but because the Holy Spirit has lead us, because the Gospel and the Life of Jesus has taught us. The Holy Spirit gathers together, enlightens and makes holy all people on earth and keeps Holy the earth herself.
The power of the Holy Spirit was brought into the world this day over 2000 years ago, and that power is still present today through us and within the church.

Yes, we are welcomed again to the Pentecost event in the Year 2017!!

Today is Pentecost, the birthday of the church,
when the Holy Spirit, the very presence of God came into the
church and gave the church life.

God loves us so much that God gives us the Holy Spirit, God's
own presence to live inside us. We can't really see the Spirit anymore than we can see the air around us. But we can feel the air, the wind blowing, can't we?  We can see it when the tree
limbs are moving.  So, too, we can feel the Spirit in our lives when we are moved to love God and love others, to worship God and to serve God.

Yet to do nothing and wait and hope for a nudging from the spirit is not what we are called too.  The spirit calls us to engage actively in a spiritual life, to seek out times of quite with God , to seek out times of prayer, to seek out times of ministry where we engage God and the spirit in the world.  Just as a child learns the difference between stillness and a gentle breeze we must engage in practices so we can detect and learn to recognize the moving of God’s spirit in our lives.

God gives us so many wonderful gifts and the church is just one of them. Tell me, what do you like about the church, this church, On this the birthday of the church, what's special to you about it? Go ahead shout out an answer…

The church is first and above all - the people of God   united and empowered by God to show God's love to world.

On a birthday, you usually give a gift, don't you?  Well, on this birthday of the church we do not so much give gifts to the church as we offer back to God the fruit of the gift that was given the
Church when it was born.  We celebrate what God has given! Rick Kirchoff, Germantown United Methodist Church said this in 2001 at the Opening remarks to the Memphis Annual Conference of the Methodist churches.

When God sends forth the Spirit amazing things happen:

barriers are broken,
communities are formed,
opposites are reconciled,
unity is established,
disease is cured,
addiction is broken,
cities are renewed,
races are reconciled,
hope is established,
people are blessed,
and church happens.

Today the Spirit of God is present
and we’re gonna‚ have church.

So be ready, get ready...God is up to something... discouraged folks cheer up,
dishonest folks ’fess up,
sour folks sweeten up,
closed folk, open up,
gossipers shut up,
conflicted folks make up,
sleeping folks wake up,
lukewarm folk, fire up,
dry bones shake up,
and pew potatoes stand up!
But most of all, Christ the Savior of all the world is lifted Glory

Yes, welcome to the Pentecost event, 2017, and Happy Birthday to the church!

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