Here are the thoughts for Pentecost Sunday that I presented at Grannie Annie’s Kitchen on May 18th. The Scriptures for this Sunday were Acts 2: 1 – 21 (I used the Cotton Patch translation), Romans 8: 14 – 17, and John 14: 25 – 27.
When you grow up in the South, you learn real quick the signs of a possible tornado. In Georgia, for example, it is said that you should listen very carefully when the wind goes silent.
In Missouri, they will tell you that a tornado is probably eminent when the sky is green.
And every person who has ever survived a tornado will tell you that you will never forget the sound of a tornado as it roars by your house.
And whatever the signs might be, you learn quickly to heed them and to know what to do if one should come. Unfortunately, we were reminded of this with all of the death and destruction that took place outside the Dallas/Fort Worth area this past week.
As we view the destruction that took place in Texas and which will undoubtedly see again through this summer, we can begin to imagine what the people gathered in Jerusalem must have felt when they heard the roaring winds that Clarence Jordan described as a tornado.
And surely they must have thought they were in the midst of a summer thunderstorm when the room was filled with fiery bolts of lightning.
And what did those outside the room think as they rushed to see what was happening, imagining death and destruction but finding celebration and rejoicing? We know that they were confused and convinced that those who had just experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit must have been drunk.
Here were all these people, gathered from every part of the world, speaking in their own language and yet understanding what everyone else was saying. It was a reason for rejoicing, a reason for celebration.
Peter will speak of the prophecy of Joel and how the young will once again have visions of the future and the old will again begin to dream. He will speak of the new community that begins on this day.
For those who remember, there was once a time when all the people of the world basically spoke the same language. But their own pride, their own greed, and what the Greeks called hubris lead them to build the tower of Babel and seek to be the same as God. God, perhaps rightly so, created the different languages to separate the people and force them to find new ways to work together.
Our history tells us how well we have done in that regard and how well we understand the cultures and personalities of other countries.
And so it is on this day, this Pentecost, that people have come together and the Holy Spirit gave each one the ability to hear others and speak to them. It brought back the sense of community that was torn apart so many years ago but which Jesus sought to build during his ministry.
Howard Snyder points out that Jesus probably gave as much or more to building a community of disciples as He did proclaiming the Good News.
He did this because it is in the community where individuals can grow in faith. Our task today is to recognize each individual’s responsibility before and to God (and not God’s responsibility to the individual as many people think) and recognize that we gather as a community so that Spirit can grow in all who gather together. (adapted from The Community of the King by Howard A. Snyder)
Pentecost will have no meaning for us if we see the church as a collection of saved souls and not as a community of interacting personalities.
Paul wrote to the Romans about the life we received when we came to Christ,
This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him
We have said before and we will continue to say that this time together on Saturday mornings was never meant to be just a meal but the beginning of a new community.
Jesus told the disciples before He ascended into Heaven that He had shown them the way to the Father and He would send the Holy Spirit to give the ability to show others the way.
The challenge before us is perhaps daunting but not impossible.
For some, it is to help the church today regain the sense of community that it once had. It means tearing down the walls, both physical and spiritual, that keep people apart. It means seeing worship in a new way, offering new opportunities for people to come to Christ.
For others, on both sides of these spiritual and physical walls, it also means removing the barriers in their own lives that keep Jesus from being a part of their lives.
Today is the day 2000 years ago that the church began. It began as a community, a community for all, not just some. It was community that offered to all, not just some, the Hope and Peace that is Jesus Christ.
Today, in 2013, we celebrate that community of Christ and we invite all who seek Him to join this community today.