Archive for category Pentecost
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered,
because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, 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 Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.”
All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
“In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon 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 upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.‘ [NRSV]
Prophecy: In the last days..
Jesus instructed the disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit, Comforter, to empower them. In Acts Chapter 2 we see the Holy Spirit Revealed. Peter begins explaining the scene in the context of the prophet Joel. Jesus didn’t tell the disciples this would be in last days.
Remember how Peter had the great idea to build monuments on the mountain of Transfiguration to remember Jesus, Moses and Elijah being revealed. God interrupts and says, “Listen.”
Remember how Peter promises to proclaim Jesus, even to the point of death and Jesus corrects him, no you will deny me three times tonight.
Remember how Jesus hears the Good News of the Resurrection from Mary and does not believe her, but runs to see the tomb for himself, and leaves not finding Jesus, only the empty grave.
Peter selecting a less than accurate passage from the Old Testaments prophets to make sense of the tounges of fire and the understanding of the Good News through different languages.
The Joel passage is similar to what Peter, the disciples and the great crowd of strangers experience that day. The part that Peter points is the Spirit’s presence being revealed through, men and women, slave and free, young and old.
Some say they are drunk on milky grains, new wine.
This festival, celebration that has brought the crowds into town is also known as the Festival of Weeks. This celebration was a way to serve God by bringing first fruits, the early crops, and waiting for God to provide the full harvest, as a remembrance of when Moses came down from the mountain with the law, the ten commandments. .
The youngest, most tender grains of wheat, barley and fruits like grapes and apples. These would be cooked with the old leaven or yeast and set aside to ferment. At the end of the countdown of seven weeks of seven days, the following, 50th, day would be ‘Pentecost, the 50th day.
So it would not be unreasonable for some to say, the disciples had been drinking the new wine, the freshly fermented beer, cider or wine.
The disciples had not been drinking but they were filled with something else:
The Holy Spirit.
God’s presence was poured out like liquid flames, resting on the disciples, similar to Moses’s burning bush event.
Another mis-understood part of the passage is about speaking in tongues. Actually the text suggests that they were speaking Galilean but the hearers from different regions and foreign lands, heard in thier own native language. Some translations go a step further and say they heard in their own hearts.
So Much for the History Lesson?
What do we learn about the Spirit as a take-away as modern day disciples?
First. The Spirit moves like the wind.
2nd, The power is revealed when they were all together, not a solo event.
3rd, The Spirit worked through the disciples, The disciples were vessels, hose pipes, conductors, channels, God uses to reach others.
4th, The Spirit choose the moment and venue
5th. Not everyone will understand or receive, but those who do, find God alive and at work through our willingness to serve.
Pentecost: A Season of Service
The Weeks of Counting: Are a call to serve God in the weeks ahead.
Our response might be: But school is almost over, it’s vacation time!
It is time to remember God calls us together
It is time count the ways God guides us. Review one commandment a week.
It is time to be available for the Spirit to work through us
It is time celebrate God is will with us. We are spiritual people, saved through Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Young and old, Males and Female, Oppressed or Oppressor, God is in Charge
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. [NRSV]
The car I most often drive has over 271,000 miles registered on the odometer. I wish they were all business miles because Uncle Sam would allow me nearly $150,000. While many are work related, some include trips to the beach, Braves games and a 30 minute glimpse of the Grand canyon. A good many reflect trips to the grocery store, school events and gatherings with friends. But the bottom line is that every miles is part of many journeys with many people where the Love of God, the Grace of Jesus Christ and Power of the Holy Spirit have carried me. My hope and prayer is that I have used those opportunities to share these very gifts with folks along the way. Otherwise I have wasted more than gas and insurance.
As difficult and unsettling as it is to uproot and change churches our appointive system allow me to great opportunity to journey here to share God’s love, Christ’s grace and the power of the Spirit as we share our lives together. For half a century I have been moving and sharing a journey of faith. All those previous miles and experiences have lead me to this very moment.
But let me be clear: as happy and excited as we are to be here in ministry together, I am not here because of what I have done, rather I am here with you because what God has done for me and through me.
In our text today, Cleopas and his wife are walking on the road from Jerusalem toward to village of Emmaus. Three years ago I had the opportunity to walk along that path. I can’t say it was the very spot where Cleo and his wife were talking to Jesus but I was powerful to imaging sharing the same road. The text describes the seven mile walk as one filled with grief and disappointment.
The passage is one of my favorites. It is an Easter passage. The risen Jesus Christ is present but not recognized through the perspective of grief and disappointment. These are emotions and experiences that we all share at different times throughout our lives. Not may of us are shepherd or fisherman or tax collectors. but all of us experience broken hearts, lost dreams and unrealized hopes.
The passage is also about a two of the ordinary folks, not the chosen 12 or main characters of the temple court. Instead we have two family members who found themselves caught up and invested in politics and religion and they are heading home focus on what they lost.
How familiar? How many people within 2o miles of where we sit at this very moment can’t see the forest for the trees, this very morning.
Jesus meets them on the road, in the middle of their journey, sharing the witness and power of the scriptures, using the occasion of their loss and detachment as a time to reach into their hearts and bring them to the table.
At the table.
My grandmother always had a bring round oak table at her house. My maternal grandfather was ousting me from his familiar chair at the declaring he was king of the castle and as such he was at the head of the table and only he was to be seated in the throne. (Halmark never call him to play the part of grandfather of the year) My grandmother called me to the kitchen. She told me about her table, explaining that it was round. And many chairs could fit around the table and that everyone who had a seat at the table was seated at the head, because they had a place they were welcomed to break bread together.
So we could let grandman think he was whatever he wanted to be because the table was for us all. it is in the blessing and breaking of the bread that Cleo and his wife see what they had bee missing all along. The Risen Lord.
This is the work we share now and until Christ return. As long as our bodies hunger and thirst. We are called to share Jesus and the scriptures along the journey and through the meals and prayers. This is what we are saved and charged to do. And so it begins a new chapter of the journey for us together.
We will do many things together in this place for the glory of God and the strengthening of our faith and fellowship, but we do so for work outside these doors. Where our paths cross. Where our ideas and opinions differ and are strained. Where our experiences and perspective intersect and even conflict.
It is in these moments that we help one another and even strangers come to find Jesus lives and reigns for us. The story and scriptures are true and they are lifted up that we might have faith, hope, joy and new life together.
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” [NRSV]
Disciples Gathered in grief and fear. Jesus brings peace
Disciples Separate themselves away from the world and are filled with doubt. Jesus reveals his crucifixion.
Disciples Recognize Jesus as Lord and Rejoice. Jesus fortifies their peace.
Disciples Hear the mission to be a “sent” people. Jesus fills them with the Spirit.
The mission is transferred. The Church is born.
Our task is to mature the church, continue the work. be filled with peace and Spirit and give grace and hope to the world of grief and fear.
10 When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments were stationed to praise the Lord with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, according to the directions of King David of Israel; 11 and they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.” And all the people responded with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of families, old people who had seen the first house on its foundations, wept with a loud voice when they saw this house, though many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted so loudly that the sound was heard far away. [NRSV]
Returning Home is Never the Same:
The experience of Ezra and the people coming back to Jerusalem from exile comes with the mixed blessing of building something new with the sorrow of what is no longer reality.
John Wesley opposed preaching outside to reach the poor and disconnected, but in doing so transforms the church and the world for Jesus Christ, The council of Bishops, after great study and prayer is putting the resources in vital congregations. Those left behind linger by their choice to live in the past, The commitment is to remember and acknowledge the loss of what we once were, while experimenting in building the new church. The Church of England stayed in the past and is empty. The Russian Orthodox Church has the liturgy but no connection with the people. In our life time, the church will become something new.
Who is our Leader, Who do we Follow?
Remember when Billy Graham was the iconic central figure of the protestant church. Who is next? One of the TV preachers? One of the book publishing authors? One of the political preachers? It is scary to not have the map. But if we follow the old ways we will not find the new Church.
Who Is Lost and Who is Found
It is not comfortable to be lost, but its worse to stay where we are and swap familiarity for faith One of the important questions to ask as a church: What the best day of Jackson United Methodist Church? If you say, some time in the past, you don’t think much of the present and have no hope for the future. If you say, the best day are ahead, then we don’t throw in the towel and we grow closer toward the Light of Jesus Christ. Looking backward, we are grateful and thankful for those who have paved the way before us, but the work of paving a new way is not over.
The Road Goes On, or Does it?
It continues. Where do we start? At the table: Jesus promises to meet us at the table as often as we gather in presence and memory. Remember and Eat. Learn from our past, and step out in faith in our future. Come to the table and let’s eat, weep and shout for joy!
1:1 The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. 10 Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom! Listen to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah!
1:11 What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. 12 When you come to appear before me, who asked this from your hand? Trample my courts no more; 13 bringing offerings is futile; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and sabbath and calling of convocation– I cannot endure solemn assemblies with iniquity. 14 Your new moons and your appointed festivals my soul hates; they have become a burden to me, I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you stretch out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.
1:16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, 17 learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.
18 Come now, let us argue it out, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; 20 but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken. [NRSV]
Our reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah begins with a vision for the people of God. Isaiah is embolden to speak, teach and warn the people. The prophet’s word in phrase, is summed up by Aretha Franklin: “You Better Think!”
People walking around everyday, playing games, taking scores
Trying to make other people lose their minds.
Well be careful, you’re gonna lose yours.
Yeah, think (think) think about what you’re trying to do to me
Yeah, think (think, think), let your mind go, let yourself be free
You need me (need me) and I need you (don’t you know)
Without each other there ain’t nothing we can do (AF: “Think” 1968)
Imagine the prophet coming to our town and saying, Oh Jackson, under the reign of Wayne, when we Georgia’s hand has a Deal, and the Oval office has an Obama, you are acting like you all live in Vegas or Chicago. You better wake up O little town.
The full activity of the temple worship goes under attack, the whole enterprise of religiosity is put on trial. You have a great number of members, you have special Sundays, dinners and picnics galore. You remember all the holidays and know all you favorite hymns. You look pretty, you sit reverently and call on me when you get into trouble.. Well no more of that!
1:16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, 17 learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.
• Stop doing evil.
• Do Good
• Seek Justice
• Recuse the Perishing
• Care for the forgotten and the dying.
Here is how you town this town around.
There is an ultimatum:
You can do it God’s way or your way. You can eat of your own labor or you can be nourished by God work.
God’s way leads to life, your way just ends up empty and dead.
So what is it going to be?
From the book of Acts:
16 One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. 17 While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.” 18 She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. 19 But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities. 20 When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, “These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews 21 and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.” 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. 23 After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. 24 Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. 34 He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God. [NRSV]
This account of life in the early faith community offers a role model of RADICAL hospitality.
First, Paul and Silas go to a place of prayer. Instead of finding a quiet place of reflection and meditation:
- In this worshipful place there someone not only praying on the frailty of those who are searching and looking for direction and answers as they come to pray,
- the are also confronted with someone oppressed in forced labor being exploited for profit, and
- They are confronted with an opportunity to do something good that will break the law, damage ‘property’ and land them in jail if they do the ‘right’ and Godly thing.
Disciples living is not just a collection of thoughts, sayings and ideas.. it is a way that we live as people of the Holy Spirit.
What or whom are we willing to be taken to court? financial fine or even risk jail time? There is a cost of addressing sin and oppression.
- There has been much debate about immigration issues in our nation. No matter what you might think we should do as a nation. A key part of the problem is the willingness of those to hire people who are not living here legally a wage less than legal workers. We can’t say we don’t want these people in our country and at the same time fund the reasons why they are willing to risk to come here.
- We want to have the best price and not be foolish with the resources we have, but would we want our family members, of younger and older ages, being paid pennies to do a task that makes it affordable for our great discounted deal?
There is real hands on response made by Paul and Silas and the others to transform as life and a community.
Paul is annoyed that the evil spirit is telling the message of the faithful.
There are times that a mother would like for her children to set a good role model and it
Story, belt, hat, and nose wiper.. Preacher came to eat lunch..
How difficult it is when the tattooed, pierced, beatnik-type shows the grace and acceptance that others might judge or run away.
It frustrating when the voice of truth comes from the oppressed. It brings conviction to us all.
The Disciples free her from spiritual and economic oppression, leave her without a livelihood, and effect her ‘owners’ as well.
Disciples are not protected from evil for doing the Good, Godly thing.
WHAT IS THE MOTIVATION?
The Salvation story comes through an earthquake, a stayed suicide and an invitation to the family table.
Granny’s table: There is room for you and you are seated at the head, as it is round.
It doesn’t sound like a mother’s day passage, but
- what mother would not want her oppressed daughter to be free.
- What mother would not welcome a husband filled with faith
- What mother does not want to see who whole family around God’s table
All of them, let’s step it up and make Mom proud.
37:1 The hand of the LORD came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. 3 He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.” 4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD.” 7 So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8 I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” 10 I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude. 11 Then he said to me, “Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’ 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. 14 I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken and will act,” says the LORD. [NRSV]
This is a remarkable vision of the prophet Ezekiel for the people of God to hear, understand, and take to heart themselves.
On one hand it is difficult to take one person’s experience and try to make it your own. Usually we get lost trying to be like someone rather than learning from the lessons they have shared.
One of my professors in seminary, Jonathon Jackson, was a student of teacher, preacher and spiritual mystic, Howard Thurman. For years Jonathon took every class Dr Thurman offered, read all his books, sought his counsel in his office as often as he could. As hard as he tried he did not find the same joy and power Dr Thurman expressed and witnessed. He confronted his hero and said, I have tried with all my strength to live and act just as you have done and it has not worked for me. Dr Thurman replied, ‘The Good Lord has already made a Howard Thurman, what [he] wants is a Jonathon Jackson.’
We take the message of others and applied the lessons to fit our own spiritual skin.
Ezekiel is taken by a divine messenger to witness the miracle of resurrection. The Good News we celebrated just 50 days ago at Easter, continues as true then as now. He lives!
Pentecost asks: So what are you doing about that fact?
Ezekiel is taken to the valley of the shadow of death and see’s the evidence of futile fighting our physical battle.. The bones of a great nation that has lived and died and what do they have to show for their lives?
The Great Work is a step-by-step reconstruction of the impossible.
This is the message of the resurrection! What seems impossible, God can do and desires to do through us.
In the field, bones rattle and come together end-to-end
Sinews form, muscles spring out and attach
Skin forms and the lifeless signs of death are no more.
Now there is a great nation of living, breathing, people of God’s making.
For some the image of imperial storm trooper drones are pictured, but this is not just a show, this is new creation shown to be “a people, a nation.”
Without getting into politics, God is forming a nation of God-made faithful folk right before Ezekiel’s eyes.
It is actually the same as a people who have heard the Good News of Easter, but just 50 days later is sounds like old news we’ve heard before and we want something more and wonder why we are frustrated, dying and afraid.
Hear the Good News
We are people of God’s remolding and forming. The steps are being taken to make a people who will not be just noisy rattles,
But a people who will put the pieces together and live the life most fully, the God connect, God breathed, God empowered life.
Take a deep spiritual breathe, be made new
Get up out of this field and go into the world,
He lives, and he lives in you and me.
1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. 5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?
2:9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs–in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.”
2:12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.” 14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say.
15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: 17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. 18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. 20 The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. 21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ [NRSV]
The Miracle of Pentecost is “Adudibility.” Our ability to hear
- It is about our hearing.
- It is a miss reading to call this witness of the Spirit an encounter with ‘speaking-in-tongues.’
- The heart of the text rest on the 2.8, “How is it that we all hear..”
Hearing is a treasure.
- Sometimes we have diminishing hearing…
- Other times we have selective hearing…
- Still other times we hear nothing or noise..
- And at times, we hear clearly.
This passage is about hearing clearly God’s word for own heart, our own need, the message that fits the challenge we face.
Are we hearing God speak to our hearts
Are we listening?
Have we heard it all before?
What is the truth in times of division?
Some in the text are not ready to hear. The message is available but they are not receptive. Peter warns us not to be afraid of Hearing What God has for us to know, believe, experience, or do.
For all those who heard in their own language and heart, received something that applied to their own lives, own communities and circles of influence. It is from this day of witness and hearing that the Good News is spread beyond Jerusalem into the known world. God speaks, and some folks are listening.
In this great time of hearing Peter preaches.
His words of encouraging, Hear this:
- God’s Spirit is with us, speaking to us all.
- Spirit talking and listening call for willing ears.
- So listen up and find salvation, guidance and faith.
How do you know when God is speaking?
Typically it is not in voices of unknown languages,
But in our own experience.
God’s Spirit speaks to hear our mind and heart, where we are thinking, processing, worrying, stuck and spiritually hungry.
God’s spirit is the invisible presence at work for our benefit.
This is one of the litmus tests of knowing the spirit.
If it is not for the good of community, it might just be for some one and not God at all.
Just this week, I have received a challenge to my spiritual hearing. Maybe some of you have as well..
conflicting messages from God.
Someone interrupted our music practice and wanted us to turn off the power and leave the building. Was this God speaking so just a prank?
It is true that sometimes hearing God’s call in our lives is an interruption.. Just as in the Pentecost story in Jerusalem.
It was not a common sight to see flames coming from the sky, resting on people and they becoming conduits of the divine message.
We’d like to think that something that impressive would grab all our attentions, but it did in the text and it does not reach all people at the same time today. Listening and trusting what we hear might call for actions that would be ridiculed or ignored by others.
But listen to the text, listen to Peter:
The Spirit’s message to the community and not just one person.
God has a message intended for each of us, in our hearts.
God has a word that intended for all of us, shared for listeners.
After much prayer, reflection on this text and conversation with other members, pastors, friends in the faith I have come to understand and affirm the following:
- Though we are all one in Christ, we don’t all hear the same things from God. (right/wrong, good/bad) God works through our limitations.
- The message from God always regards salvation, our broken-relationship-made-whole-through-Christ. Billy Graham’s “I preach Christ and him crucified every time.”
- Some people will disagree with our interpretations and faithful actions. Our call is to be listening to God and faithful to God, and not people’s opinions.
- God can speak through different languages, cultures, traditions, and experiences and that’s ok with God.
- Bottom line. We need to be open to how ever God might be speaking to us, but its generally a public address for God is interested in transforming the whole world.
- God does not work to get attention for God, but works to draw us closer to God’s heart.
50 Days since Easter:
Christ still lives! Does our life give witness to that Good News?
Disciples were willing to be messengers
Disciples were willing to take time to explain and help others understand what had been heard.
Disciples are folks like us, willing to hear and tell today.
- Don’t be quiet, Don’t be afraid, Don’t be left out.
Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.
4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. 5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs–in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?13 But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.” 14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. 18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. 20 The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. 21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ -NRSV
WORKING THROUGH DISICPLES:
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit,
And began to speak each in their own native languages,
As the Spirit gave them ability.
HOW TO: Speaking through the Holy Spirit, in their own native way.
Parthians, Medes, Elamites,
Mesopotamians Judeans Cappadocian
Pontusians Asians Phrygians
Pamphylians Egyptians Libyans
Cyreneans Romans, Jews, Born and accepted
(The Taget is GLOBAL: Europeans, Africans, Arabs, Asians, Jews and Gentiles.)
John Wesley: The World is my Parish
WHAT IN THE SPIRIT IS GOING ON?
What are we hearing? The Ravings of those drunk on New Wine?
We are hearing the fulfillment of Scripture: The Prophet Joel..
The promise of the last days.. It will be obvious when God speaks..
What would God say to us, if languages were removed.. what does the world need to hear?
<ask literally from the congregation, and after a time>
You have heard it.. Who as not heard?
<who is supposed, called to tell the world, after a time, we are>
WHAT IS THE MESSAGE: The Lord is for Everyone, listen and trust God.
We live in a culture and time of political correctness where we are to honor and appreciate everyone’s culture and faith. There is a difference between honoring such, and watering down or ignoring our own.
Pentecost, the Church is born & anointed to tell the world, God is coming, live like God is already here. Trust God now and you will be ready when..