We are into our twelfth week without face to face worship. Soon we will be in worship – but it will be vastly different. How about “mask to mask”! Our Re-opening Team has been diligently working on the myriad of adjustments that we have to make to worship before we open. At the end of Reflections, I will have more information.
“What Does This Mean?”
Acts 2:1-4 — When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tonguesas the Spirit enabled them.
Celebrating Pentecost is different this year! The buildings of Pleasant Grove UMC are still closed and I am certain that we are disappointed that we are not able to worship today in the Sanctuary. But the church really is the people, not the buildings. Pentecost, in the Jewish tradition, was known as the Festival of Weeks. The Festival of Weeks occurred 50 days after the Passover celebration. When the disciples met for the Festival of Weeks and the Holy Spirit entered like a rush of wind giving them the ability to speak different languages, the church was born — and Pentecost took on new meaning.
The Gospel of John reports that before Jesus died, he assured the disciples that they would never be alone: “The Companion, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I told you” (John 14:26). Even though Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection and spent time with them, it was not the same as it had been.
We too have experienced distance from our church family. Sitting in our cars in the parking lot for Memorial Day Concert is not the same as being in the Sanctuary. Meeting online using Zoom is not the same as being together in the flesh! Yet, the Holy Spirit breathed new life and purpose into the room where the disciples gathered, and it quickly spread far beyond their dreams.
As today’s reading from Acts says: suddenly there came a wind — like a violent storm in the room and — a tongues of flame rested on them and they heard each other speak in their native languages – and those who understood the language – understood what was being said – but the observers – who did not understand the languages — thought the disciples were drunk – so early in the morning.
The disciples were confused and asked the key question –“What does this mean?” The Holy Spirit arrived. It is the day of Pentecost. Pentecost is viewed as the beginning of the church – the day of birth of the church. Throughout the ages, Pentecost has become the second most important celebration – second to Easter.
We, too, may ask ourselves the question, “Why is this day important?” Well, without Pentecost, the incarnation of God in Christ would be just a story – told for a long time – but just a story. – no hope – no growth – no transformation. At Pentecost, the truth about Jesus the Christ becomes internalized and personal; God incarnate in the lives of ordinary men and women.
Ordinary men and women became full of faith and they were fearless. They became courageous witness to God’s mighty and saving acts. Weak and timid disciples became strong and powerful witness to the Good News of God’s saving acts to an unbelieving and self-absorbed world. Each disciple received comfort, assurance and hope as they were now accompanied by the Holy Spirit – just as Jesus had promised. And they suffered for this — everyone was martyred for their faith.
For you and for me, Pentecost means that the Holy Spirit is with us – transforming us – urging us on – nudging us forward – revealing to us the continued power of God’s incarnation – God’s indwelling through Jesus. God through Jesus delivered on his promise to send an advocate or helper to be with us.
But there is more —- People of faith – people who pray – people who seek to draw close to Christ – also experience the Holy Spirit. The Spirit can emerge in subtle ways and the Spirit can emerge in dynamic ways. Little by little, as you hear, recognize, understand, and become aware of the Holy Spirit in different ways—through your thinking, correcting a thought with this voice of God, recognizing this voice in another, sharing this voice of God with a friend, — the Holy Spirit is brought into the world and given to each of God’s people.
As we listen to the beginning of the Spirit Song – let us think about our lives and our relationship with Jesus. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to each of us for our comfort and our help in dealing with the uncertainties of life. Jesus said that he would not leave us as orphans — I will send the Comforter —- the Holy Spirit to empower us. Each of us are called by God to be witnesses to the living power of the Resurrected One – wherever we go we can be extraordinary examples of just what the indwelling of the Holy Spiritcan perform.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWEDBaFy0SI The Spirit Song
Closing prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And you shall renew the face of the earth. O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and every enjoy Your consolations. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.