Pentecost, the day the Holy Spirit came in a very special, dramatic and powerful way to give birth to the Christian Church.
Pentecost, which falls on Sunday May 23 of this year, is celebrated on the seventh Sunday after Easter and 10 days after Ascension.
It all started after Jesus’ resurrection when he presented himself alive to his disciples, spending several days with them talking about the kingdom of God.
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Then Jesus said to them, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit is upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1: 8). After Jesus’ ascension, the disciples, along with other disciples of Jesus, returned to Jerusalem. They were waiting for Jesus’ promise to be fulfilled. The Holy Spirit is coming.
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all in one place. Suddenly, a noise from the sky, like the rush of a strong wind, filled the house where they were sitting. Individual flames of fire ignited on each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages. They quickly moved from the upper house to the streets outside.
They were overwhelmed by the huge crowd of pious Jews from “all nations under heaven” gathering to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. Never has there been a more international crowd than in Jerusalem at the time of Pentecost.
This diverse crowd of 15 different languages and cultures from some 15 different countries were stunned and astonished as they said, “How is it that each of us can hear these Galileans talking about the ‘mighty works of God’ in our own language? ”
Then a renewed Peter rises before this vast crowd to deliver the very first Christian sermon. As he speaks, the crowd cries out to Peter and the other apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do? Peter answered without hesitation, “Change your heart and your life and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Peter’s words were clear and went to the heart. That day, about three thousand people took Peter at his word, were baptized and enrolled. They engaged in the teachings of the apostles, having a life together, common meals, and prayer as the Holy Spirit became the predominant reality in the life of the young church.
A new wind has blown over the earth with a new breath of hope and power. They dreamed of the day that God would make history, now that that day has come. The church was born in the midst of the wind and fire of Pentecost.
Pentecost was a miraculous moment.
This immense crowd became a safe place for the diversity of races, cultures and languages, in the midst of a hostile and divided world. NT Wright points out: “The food and goods community is presented as a concrete testimony that something substantial has happened to these people. From that point on, the Holy Spirit became a dominant reality in the life of the young church.
There are some patterns that came out of the Pentecostal experience in Acts 2, and we need to find out what those patterns are:
1. The first gift of the Holy Spirit is the gift of tongues
This gift caused this large and diverse crowd to cry out, “How is it possible that we can hear them speaking in our native language?” The gift of hope on earth with a new breath of hope and empowerment for many. The setting in which the Spirit entered the scene, and the ways in which the Spirit makes His presence known through many languages, reveals that the good news does not belong to one type of person. No culture or mode of expression can fully define the gospel. The center of the church is Christ.
2. The Holy Spirit creates a unified and diverse community
Who was the Holy Spirit given to on the day of Pentecost? The Spirit was given to a fellowship, to a community that was waiting for the coming of the Spirit. The community was following Jesus’ instructions, that they pray for the coming of the Spirit who would bring them power and teach them all things. What the Holy Spirit created that day was not a creed, or book, or theology, but a vibrant and diverse community known in the New Testament as “The Way.” The presence of the Holy Spirit comes among them to create community. The Spirit promotes unity by preserving diversity, producing a community of growth, enthusiasm and creativity.
The apostle Paul makes the clearest statement in all of the New Testament regarding the diversity of the community:
There are varieties of gifts but the same Spirit; and there are different ministries but the same Lord; there are different activities, but it is the same God who produces them all in everyone. 1 Cor. 12: 4-6).
Will Willimon observes: “What we are discovering at Pentecost is a vibrant and diverse community where all activities of fellowship teaching, sharing, breaking bread and praying for a well-created rounded image of the world. ‘church. They bore the marks of an authentic incarnation of the Spirit in the life of the community.
The apostles showed a new strength that entered their hearts, becoming a driving force in their lives. These early disciples of Christ are an inspiration to today’s congregations seeking to serve communities of racial and cultural diversity.
3. The Holy Spirit leads the Church into the future
How? ‘Or’ What? By speaking a language that brings all things into harmony with God and with one another. These people of different cultures, races and languages are united in the Spirit of God in hospitality, worship and evangelism, knowing that “whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (2:21). This Pentecostal account in Acts 1-2 provides us with crucial direction for churches today in these days of division. Eminent Church historian Justo Gonzalez writes: “Today’s congregations that engage as churches of multiethnic identity, hospitality and preaching the gospel, will always attract attention. . ”
4. Acts 2; 44-47 defines the ministry of the church
“All believers were united and shared everything. They sold goods and possessions and distributed the profits to all who needed it. Each day, they gathered at the temple and ate at their homes. They shared the food with joy and simplicity. They praised God and demonstrated God’s goodness to everyone. The Lord added those who were saved every day to the community.
All of this is the result of their baptismal commitment and their love for Christ and his Church. The lasting results of Pentecost bring all kinds of people into a liberating coexistence with Christ.
The hymn reminds us: “In Christ there is neither east nor west, in him neither south nor north; but a great communion of love throughout the earth.
John A. Stroman, Th.D., is a retired United Methodist pastor living in Tallahassee.
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