Faithlife Sermons

Pentecost 2018 (Year B, May 20)

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Scripture Readings

John 15:26–27 ESV
“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
John 16:4–15 ESV
But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
John
Acts 2:1–21 ESV
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.” But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: “ ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
Romans 8:
The past seven weeks had been a roller coaster for this group of friends. Their beloved teacher, leader, friend had been sentenced to death on trumped up charges that didn’t make any sense. His execution was public, slow, painful, gruesome. His burial was rushed because of the Sabbath mandate to cease all work from sundown to sundown. When two of the women in the group had gone the day after the Sabbath to complete the burial rites, his body was gone! Not just gone, though, like someone had taken it: Jesus was risen from the dead just like he had said he would be! He was indeed the Messiah they’d been waiting for! In the weeks since the resurrection, the disciples had been able to walk and talk and eat once again with Jesus the Messiah! This was the hinge in the center of all of history and they were here to watch it! 40 days after he’d risen just like he’d said he would, he was taken up into heaven after promising them that his Spirit would come down soon to carry them out into the world with the message of Good News!
Romans 8:22–27 ESV
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Hold on, it’s about to get bumpy!

There were 11 of us walking together through Galilee last week over my last 4 days in Israel and Palestine. As we hiked through the land, I often wondered about the number of us.
11- just like there were after Jesus’ death until a replacement was found for Judas.
11 of us - 10 Presbyterians who stuck around after the conference and 1 Jewish trail guide.
11 of us - trying to unravel and sort out everything we’d just been through together. Our poor guide who bore the brunt of our thousands of questions and wondering as we all tried to process together. He was quite a good sport!
Our first two weeks there were intense. We met with people of all three faiths that call Jerusalem and the surrounding lands Holy. Jewish people consider it Holy because it is the place to which their ancestors in faith escaped from Egypt - the Promised Land. Christians call it Holy because it’s the place Jesus entered into our time and space as a human. Muslims call it holy because it is said to be where their great prophet ascended to heaven. We met with Israelis and Palestinians, with people whose families had lived there for centuries and with those who only recently moved there and started families.
I’m still processing much of what happened there and I’m sure you’ll hear more about it in the weeks to come. Hopefully I’ll have a video or series of videos to share in the not too distant future. But for today, I’ll leave it at this: it was a difficult and exhausting two weeks. I needed 50 miles of hiking to decompress.
For all of time, it seems, the political situation in that part of the world has been what can be best described as “a hot mess”. And the disciples had just experienced that times a million compared to what my compatriots and I had. I wondered, as I walked that land with 10 companions, what those weeks between Jesus’ arrest and the descent of the Holy Spirit must have felt like for the disciples.
The past seven weeks had been a roller coaster for this group of friends. Their beloved teacher, leader, friend had been sentenced to death on trumped up charges that didn’t make any sense. His execution was public, slow, painful, gruesome. His burial was rushed because of the Sabbath mandate to cease all work from sundown to sundown. When two of the women in the group had gone the day after the Sabbath to complete the burial rites, his body was gone! Not just gone, though, like someone had taken it: Jesus was risen from the dead just like he had said he would be! He was indeed the Messiah they’d been waiting for! In the weeks since the resurrection, the disciples had been able to walk and talk and eat once again with Jesus the Messiah! This was the hinge in the center of all of history and they were here to watch it! 40 days after he’d risen just like he’d said he would, he was taken up into heaven after promising them that his Spirit would come down soon to carry them out into the world with the message of Good News!
For all of time, it seems, the political situation in that part of the world has been what can be best described as “a hot mess”. And the disciples had just experienced that times a million compared to what my compatriots and I had.
10
As they gathered for prayer that day, while the rest of the city celebrated the Pentecost holiday, you could almost feel the anticipation in the air. They didn’t know what to expect or when to expect it, but every time they gathered, their excitement and hope increased. “Perhaps it’s today!”
God, you are my people. In Jesus I have set you free from the constraints o
At first, as they began to pray, it was just like any other prayer. But then, the walls began to rattle and their hair started to move as though they were outside on a breezy day. At first, it was just a whistle through the cracks and corners of the building, but soon the room filled with a VIOLENT RUSHING WIND! This was NOT what they had expected Jesus meant when he said he’d send his spirit down! And like ribbons, fire began to descend from above and rest on each of them. Overwhelmed by the power of this frightening, wild, amazing Spirit of God, the disciples couldn’t help but begin to tell the Good News! 
f
Each of them began to speak the Gospel in another language and soon a crowd gathered at the commotion. Many in the crowd were amazed, while many in the crowd said, “Somebody’s been hitting the bottle a little early today. . .” The disciples weren’t deterred by the ones who made fun of them, though. The Holy Spirit could not be quenched by the unbelievers. 
I wonder if we believe that. Not just the story, but do we truly believe that the Holy Spirit can’t be quenched by the unbelievers? Sometimes I wonder if we believe that the Holy Spirit is even there. Or if we do, we act like the Holy Spirit is just sometimes there when it’s convenient, makes a few people put their hands up in the air during worship, then leaves for a while. 
law
I ADORE Pentecost. It’s the one holiday in the year when we get to wear red and decorate the sanctuary red and really celebrate the fact the God sent the Holy spirit to help us figure out what God is up to in the world! Year after year, I am frustrated trying to find hymns about the Holy Spirit that aren’t boring. I own a lot of hymnals, for the record. It’s not just the hymnal we have here. Most hymnals have a pretty sad selection of music for Pentecost. This one is better than most.
I couldn’t seem to find one piece of music that communicated the full power of this violent rushing wind. . . this fire from heaven. . . this something so powerful that the people of God were accused of being drunk, they were acting so strangely!!!! 
As a kid in Kansas, I once stood on the porch with my dad watching a tornado about a quarter mile away from our house. I know what a violent rushing wind sounds, looks, and feels like, and most of our Holy Spirit music and liturgy and even many Pentecost services are more like a 20 year old box fan set to low than a violent rushing wind. It’s like a bic lighter, not tongues of flame from heaven!
released you into the arms of grace. And now you are a new sort of
people. Go and take that news to the world around you!”
Why don’t we trust anymore that God is going to move powerfully? How is it that this violent rushing wind has been tamed so much in our liturgy and in our theology? W
Is it because when we walk around outside these walls, we don’t see much changing? Perhaps it’s because we’re waiting for the world to change and come to us - we’re defining renewal in the church by our numbers of new converts who wander in from outside, but if that’s the case, we have Pentecost all backwards. 
We say Happy Birthday to the church in 26 different languages
We see in our passage today that the Holy Spirit reached outside of the church. The disciples speaking in many different languages would have been pointless if it were not so that they could preach to people of all different languages and backgrounds. But the Holy Spirit came first into the house where the disciples were gathered. What we see in Pentecost is not the Holy Spirit reforming the outside and bringing it in to renew the church, but the Holy Spirit reforming the church first to then bring renewal to those outside its walls. 
because this is the day that the Holy Spirit came down. The da
y that the
Our Christian celebration of Pentecost is a celebration of renewal of the people of God, but Pentecost is not a solely Christian holiday. While it means something wildly different for Christians, it was first a Jewish celebration. For those of you who are really interested in the history of Pentecost, I’ve attached a couple pages at the end of this week’s sermon manuscript that give some more historical information about it. The short story is that Pentecost was – and still is for practicing Jews – the celebration of the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai. Passover was the celebration of their liberation from their Egyptian slave masters, but Pentecost was the remembrance of how after that, they were formed as a community when God gave them the Torah – the Law. 
Violent RUSHING WIND and TONGUES OF FIRE came down and ignited
Today, Christians celebrate Pentecost with much the same emphasis on formation of a community as we see in the Jewish celebration – but we add another chapter or layer to it. This is when God said, “You are my people. I am your God, and you are my people. In Jesus I have set you free from the constraints of law – released you into the arms of grace. And now you are a new sort of people. Go and take that news to the world around you!” 
When we asked our new friends in Palestine and Israel how we can represent peace on their behalf, they said to do like Jesus says, “Come and see, then go and tell. Go and tell you friends and your family and everyone you know that there is hope here and that we stand in solidarity with you in Jesus Christ. It all starts with community. It all starts with listening, with knowing, with love, with being together. We’re freed from all the things that separate us from God and from one another - we are freed from sin. As Christians, Pentecost is like our Independence day!
Today we celebrate the day that the Violent RUSHING WIND and TONGUES OF FIRE came down and ignited the movement that 1900 ish years later gave birth to this specific Church! Sure, our Western Pennsylvanian church established mere minutes ago compared to the age of Christianity as a whole looks quite a bit different than the very first church established half the world away around 2000 years ago. It should! 
the movement that 1900 years later gave birth to Liberty Presbyterian
We can trace our heritage straight back to that moment in that house with the disciples. That moment when a windstorm that would make a Kansan quake in her boots kicked up in the middle of a house. That day when people were touch by heavenly fire and were not burned, but whose hearts were set on FIRE. Pentecost is when we say, “This is who we are.”
Church! Sure, our Western Pennsylvanian church established mere minutes
Often on our national patriotic holidays - Memorial Day, U.S. Independence Day, Veterans’ Day – we pray for our nation, as we absolutely should, but we also worry and ask God what has happened to our country. And I think we do that with Pentecost too. We ask where did God go “out there”? Where is the rushing wind of the Holy Spirit? Why have people stopped coming to church? What is wrong with our nation or the church? When did our nation turn away from God?  When we read the news that there has been yet another shooting in a school, we wonder why people have strayed so far.
ago compared to the age of Christianity
These are the wrong questions. At the very least, they ought to be pretty low on our priority list. Our first questions should be introspective – looking inward at ourselves – not looking out at the world. If the world’s not getting it, our first question should be “where do I need to let the Holy Spirit into my life?” “Where do we need to ask the Holy Spirit to guide our congregation?” “In what areas are we failing to submit to the wild, wonderful, terrifying, life-giving, fire-filled ways of the Holy Spirit!?”
as a whole looks quite a bit different
The Spirit came first to those believers gathered together on Pentecost. The Spirit came to them as they waited expectantly – not optimistically, thinking “The Holy Spirit could come at any time now”, but expectantly, saying confidently, “The Holy Spirit is going to show up at any moment now.” They didn’t just throw their bulletins to the wind and put their hands up or clap during one of two of the songs. I mean. . . if you want to put your hands up or clap during the music on Sunday morning, go for it! Energetic hymn singing pleases God - but that’s not all the Holy Spirit has to offer. That’s way too tame.
than the very first church established half the world away around 2000 years
That’s a great start, but it isn’t a violent rushing wind. I actually like a little bit of talk-back during a sermon. Feel free to say or shout, “Amen!” or “MMMM_HMMM!” or “OK now!” or something like that in the middle of a sermon. I won’t mind – I enjoy that. Let’s me know you’re still awake out there. (You’re still awake out there, right?) But that’s not tongues of fire. 
The Holy Spirit affects the church first: fills up the believers gathered for worship and ignites something in them that causes them to rush out of the doors and start telling the Good News with such passion and such energy and such enthusiasm that some people think they’ve hit the bottle a little bit early today.  The Holy Spirit inspires people to go out on a limb and invite a few dozen bikers to come share our space!
ago. It should!
Theresa has been doing some really valuable and commendable
Our next hymn is “Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove.” The words are: “Come, Holy Spirit, heav'nly Dove, with all Thy quickening powers; kindle a flame of sacred love in these cold hearts of ours. Awake our souls to joyful songs; let pure devotion rise, till praise employs our thankful tongues, and doubt forever dies."
2 O raise our thoughts from things below, from vanities and toys, then shall we with fresh courage to to reach eternal joys.
3 Awake our souls to joyful songs; let pure devotion rise, till praise employs our thankful tongues, and doubt forever dies.
I want you to really think about what the Holy Spirit filling the disciples looked like, what it meant, what happened as a result. I want you to really think about what this would look like if we truly believed that it can happen in the church today as well. If you need to in order to really listen to the words and hush your soul to listen for the Spirit, stop singing. I’ll keep singing up here. I’m not shy.
4 Come, Holy Spirit, heav'nly Dove, with all Thy quickening powers; come, shed abroad a Savior's love, and that shall kindle ours.” I want you to really think about what the Holy Spirit filling the disciples looked like, what it meant, what happened as a result. I want you to really think about what this would look like if we truly believed that it can happen in the church today as well. If you need to in order to really listen to the words and hush your soul to listen for the Spirit, stop singing. I’ll keep singing up here. I’m not shy around the microphone.
Our church is very different than the gathering of the disciples 2000 years ago. I don’t know what exactly the movement of the Holy Spirit will look or sound like in our midst today. But I know that the Holy Spirit will show up if we make space. Maybe we’ll experience a violent rushing wind, but we’ll more likely experience something else we don’t expect. 
research on the history of this congregation
preserving old r
As we first sing, let us pray that the Holy Spirit would descend on each of us. That we would be filled with the power of the Spirit and that that power would flow out of us, renewing the church and the world it touches. 
Let us pray.

Pentecost in the Jewish Tradition

Leviticus 23:15–16 ESV
“You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the Lord.
ecords,
Let us pray by singing hymn number 164: Holy Spirit, Flow Through Me.

Pentecost (Gk. πεντηκοστή, the ‘fiftieth day’). The Greek name given to the Feast of *Weeks (e.g. Tob. 2:1; *Josephus, Ant. 17. 10. 2), so called because it fell on the 50th day after *Passover. At this feast the first-fruits of the corn harvest were presented (Deut. 16:9) and, in most later times, the giving of the Law by Moses was commemorated. As the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles on this day (Acts 2:1), the name was applied by the Church to the feast celebrating this event, popularly called *whitsunday (q.v.). In early times, e.g. in the *Nicene canons (can. 20), the word ‘Pentecost’ was also used for the whole period between Easter and Whitsunday, i.e. the Paschal time, during which no fast was allowed and prayer was only made standing. For further liturgical details see WHITSUNDAY.

F. Lohse in TWNT 6 (1959; Eng. tr., 1969), pp. 44–53, s.v. πεντηκοστή, with refs.; M. Delcor in Dict. Bibl., Suppl. 7 (1966), cols. 858–79, s.v. ‘Pentecôte (la Fête de la)’. For the Hebrew feast, see also WEEKS, FEAST OF; for the Christian, see WHITSUNDAY.

organizing session minutes from the early 1900’s, stuff like that

PENTECOST (חג שׁבעת, chg shb't, “weeks”; πεντηκοστή, pentēkostē, “fiftieth”). In the Hebrew Bible, Pentecost is an annual harvest festival that occurs seven weeks after Passover. It became an important Christian holiday after God poured out the Holy Spirit upon the Jerusalem church on the first Pentecost after Christ’s resurrection.

and you

PENTECOST [pĕnˊtə kôst] (Gk. pentēkostḗ “fiftieth [day]”).† The Old Testament and Jewish Feast of Weeks (Lev. 23:15–21) is referred to under its Greek name three times in the New Testament, twice simply as an indication of date (Acts 20:16; 1 Cor. 16:8). These and other texts (cf. Acts 18:21 [the Western text]; 20:6; 27:9) show that Paul thought of the year and seasons according to the Jewish calendar.

At 2:1 “Pentecost” is again an indication of date, and also a means of accounting for the large crowd gathered from far away places in Jerusalem that witnessed the events associated with the coming of the Spirit on the Church (vv. 5–11). The Jewish Feast of Pentecost came to be a commemoration and celebration of the giving of the law at Sinai, but this change in the understanding of the Feast does not appear to be reflected in the record in Acts of the Church’s Pentecost experience and, at any rate, probably arose only in the second to fourth centuries A.D.

Two factors involved in the interpretation of the Pentecost event of Acts 2 are Jesus’ promise of the giving of the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:12; Acts 1:8) and the prophetic view of the future age of the Spirit and of salvation (represented by the quotation of Joel 2:28–32 MT 3:1–5] at Acts 2:17–21). Another important factor that shapes the report of this event is the understanding of it as the initiation of the Church’s worldwide preaching of the gospel. The report includes, therefore, the first post-Easter gospel sermon (vv. 22–36, 38–40), a report of the resultant great augmentation of the original community (v. 41), the establishment of the community in a pattern of liturgy, teaching, sharing of goods, miracles, and numerical growth (vv. 41–47), and a prefiguration of the worldwide aspect of the spread of the gospel (vv. 5–11). The miracle of “other tongues” (v. 4) is of significance with regard to the last of these—whatever the nature of the speaking, the miracle was mainly one of hearing (vv. 8, 11).

See WEEKS, FEAST OF.

WEEKS, FEAST OF (Heb. ḥag šāḇu˓ôṯ Gk. pentēkostḗ). † The second of the three great annual feasts of Israel (Exod. 23:14; 2 Chr. 8:13), to be celebrated seven full weeks (or fifty days) from the beginning of the barley harvest (Lev. 23:15–16; Deut. 16:9). In later Judaism it became an anniversary celebration of the giving of the law at Sinai, and in the New Testament signified God’s outpouring of his Holy Spirit upon his people, the birthday of the Christian church.

I. Old Testament

According to Deut. 16:9 the Israelites were to “begin to count the seven weeks from the time you first put the sickle to the standing grain” This cutting was a part of the waving of the sheaf ceremony recorded at Lev 23:9–14. The feast itself was originally agricultural in character, as the names Feast of Harvest (Heb. ḥag̱ haqqāṣîr; Exod. 23:16) and Day of the First Fruits (yôm habbikkûrîm; Num. 28:26) indicate. Other titles, such as Feast of Weeks (Exod. 34:22; Deut. 16:10, 16; 2 Chr. 8:13) and Pentecost (LXX, Lev. 23:16; RSV “fifty weeks”) refer to the seven-week or fifty-day period that commenced with the waving of the sheaf and reached its completion on the actual day of celebration itself. Scholars disagree as to the precise significance of this seven-week or fifty-day period. While some have sought to emphasize the importance of the number seven and its multiples (with their obvious connotation of wholeness or completeness), others see the period as possessing no special significance—that it was simply the normal time span required for completion of the harvest. While admitting the crucial role played by the number seven in the structure of Israel’s feasts, one must also take into account the fact that nature itself could at times override (as in the case of harvest) adherence to a strict timetable.

Cultic regulations concerning the one-day festival are given in full in the two parallel accounts of Lev. 23:15–21; Num. 28:26–31. Earlier and more brief references to the feast occur at Exod. 23:16; 34:22, with a later treatment (somewhat different in emphasis) at Deut. 16:9–12. On the festal day itself a holy convocation was to be called and no laborious work could be done (Lev. 23:21; Num. 28:26). Pentecost was one of three times during the year when all males were required to appear before the Lord (Exod. 23:17; 34:23). A cereal offering of new grain (two loaves of leavened bread) was offered as first fruits in thanksgiving to the Lord for his bounteous harvest blessings. The two loaves were to be waved before the Lord by the priest, together with two male lambs a year old (Lev. 23:20). In addition to the cereal offering there was to be a burnt offering—consisting of one bull, two rams and seven male lambs a year old, along with their respective cereal and drink offerings (v. 18; Num. 28:27–29) and a sin offering of one male goat “to make atonement” for their sins (Lev. 23:19; Num. 28:30). Also, each was to make a freewill offering from his own hand, in accordance with the manner in which God had blessed him (Deut. 16:10, 17). Pentecost was a time of rejoicing (v. 11), a time to celebrate and recognize the manifold blessings that Yahweh had bestowed upon his chosen people. This thankfulness was to extend to those outside the fold as well; Israel was to remember that they too had been strangers in a strange land and thus now, in remembrance of their former status, should share their abundance with those less fortunate (Lev. 23:22; Deut. 16:11–12).

In later Judaism Pentecost became an anniversary celebration of the giving of the law on Sinai (cf. Exod. 19:1, which indicates that Israel came into the wilderness of Sinai on the third new moon [the third month] after the exodus from Egypt). The book of Jubilees (second century B.C.) provides a perhaps earlier interpretation of the feast that may have served as a transition to this later equation with the Sinai event. The writer of the book, in an effort to establish the antiquity of “the feast of Shebuot” in Israel’s history, sets its origin in the covenant made by God with Noah in the third month when the patriarch had emerged from the ark “in order to renew the covenant in all [respects] year by year” (Jub. 6:17–18); the consonantal form of Heb. “weeks” (šḇ˓wṯ) here could also connote the meaning “oaths.” Other references to the feast (14:20; 15:1–10; 22:1–9) recognize its agricultural (or “weeks”) character, yet place the festival within a context more suited to its role as a celebration of covenant renewal (“oaths”) (cf. 6:21; 2 Chr. 15:10–15).

The determination of a precise date for the beginning of the festival has remained a matter of long-standing debate in rabbinic writings. The crucial phrase “the morrow after the sabbath” (mimmāḥaraṯ haššabbāṯ; Lev. 23:15) has been subjected to two major interpretations: that of the Sadducees, who understood the Sabbath as a normal weekly one and began counting the seven weeks the day after (thus the counting could begin anytime during the Passover week, depending upon where the normal Sabbath fell after the first day of Passover), and that of the Pharisees, who interpreted the Sabbath of Lev. 23:15 in a more restrictive sense as the first day of the Passover feast, whereby the counting of the seven weeks always began on the second day of Passover.

Textual evidence for a definite relationship between Pentecost and the giving of the law at Sinai does not emerge until the second century A. D., and many view the events of A.D. 70 (the destruction of Jerusalem) as the major factor in the reinterpretation of the festival. The association of Pentecost with an event of major importance in Israel’s history served to elevate the feast from its previously inferior (and original) status as a minor harvest celebration. The transition from God’s covenant with Noah (Jub. 6) to the Sinaitic covenant was a natural one that placed Pentecost on equal footing with Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles. See PENTECOST.

should ask her about it sometime because our heritage as a congregation is
of the utmost importance. But when we trace our heritage all the way back,
it goes back way furth
er than even Theresa can trace it from the stuff in our
basement. We can trace it straight back to that moment in that house with the
disciples. That moment when a windstorm that would make a Kansan quake
in her boots kicked up in the middle of a house. Th
at day when people were
touch by heavenly fire and were not burned, but whose hearts were set on
FIRE. Pentecost is when we say, “This is who we are.”
Often on our national patriotic holidays
-
Memorial Day,
Independence Day, Veterans’ Day
we pray for ou
r nation, as we absolutely
should, but we also worry and ask God what has happened to our country.
Where did God go “out there”?
Why have people stopped coming to church?
What is wrong with our nation? When did our nation turn away from God?
📷
11
These are the
wrong questions.
At the very least, they ought to be
pretty low on our priority list.
Our first questions should be introspective
looking inward at ourselves
not looking out at the world. If the world’s not
getting it, our first question should be “wh
ere do I need to let the Holy Spirit
into my life?” “Where do we need to ask the Holy Spirit to guide our
congregation?” “In what areas are we failing to submit to the wild,
wonderful, terrifying, life
-
giving, fire
-
filled ways of the Holy Spirit!?”
The Spi
rit came first to those believers gathered together on
Pentecost. The Spirit came to them as they waited expectantly
not
optimistically, thinking “The Holy Spirit could come at any time now”, but
expectantly, saying confidently, “The Holy Spirit
is going
to show up
at any
moment now.” They didn’t just throw their bulletins to the wind and put
their hands up or clap during one of two of the songs. I mean. . . if you want
to put your hands up or clap during the music on Sunday morning, go for it!
Energetic
hymn singing pleases God. That’s a great start, but it isn’t a
violent rushing wind. I actually like a little bit of talk
-
back during a sermon.
Feel free to say or shout, “Amen!” or “MMMM_HMMM!” or “OK now!” or
something like that in the middle of a sermon
. I won’t mind
I enjoy that.
Let’s me know you’re still awake out there. (You’re still awake out there,
right?) But that’s not tongues of fire.
The Holy Spirit affects the church first: fills up the believers gathered
for worship and ignites something i
n them that causes them to rush out of
the doors and start telling the Good News with such passion and such energy
and such enthusiasm that some people think they’ve hit the bottle a little bit
early today.
Our next hymn is “Holy Spirit, Flow Through Me.
” The words are:
“Holy Spirit, flow through me, and make my life what it ought to be. Holy
📷
12
Spirit, rest on me and use me Lord, win the lost to Thee. Holy Spirit flow
out from me, that others Lord may see you in me.” I want you to really think
about what th
e Holy Spirit filling the disciples looked like, what it meant,
what happened as a result. I want you to really think about what this would
look like if we truly believed that it can happen in the church today as well.
If you need to in order to really lis
ten to the words and hush your soul to
listen for the Spirit, stop singing. I’ll keep singing up here. I’m not shy
around the microphone.
Our church is very different than the gathering of the disciples 2000
years ago. I don’t know what exactly the moveme
nt of the Holy Spirit will
look or sound like in our midst. But I know that the Holy Spirit will show up
if we make space. Maybe we’ll experience a violent rushing wind, but we’ll
more likely experience something else we don’t expect.
And after that hymn
before I call for the offering, just wait. I don’t
know what to tell you to wait for. We might sit in a few moments of silent
prayer, continuing to pray for the presence of the Holy Spirit. I might lead us
in an acapella round or two of one of the choruses
we’ve sung this morning.
I might pray out loud. I don’t know yet. Maybe one of you will stand up and
pray or lead a song. We’ll let the Spirit lead us. I know this is hard for us
Presbyterians, but I know you guys
you can do it.
As we first sing, let
us pray that the Holy Spirit would descend on
each of us. That we would be filled with the power of the Spirit and that that
power would flow out of us, renewing the church and the world it touches.
Let us pray by singing hymn number 164: Holy Spirit, Fl
ow Through
Me
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