Romans 8:12-17 and Acts 2:1-21
It’s Pentecost! We read in Acts 2:1-4, ‘When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filed with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.’
The Holy Spirit came to the disciples in the form of a violent wind and tongues of fire! Wouldn’t that be an experience! The disciples were both frightened and excited! This is what Jesus promised them! In Acts 1:5 Jesus told them, “For John (the Baptist) baptized with water, but in a few days, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
When they received the Holy Spirit’s power, they became apostles, the ones sent out to proclaim the love of God to all people. As disciples they were students of Jesus, now they have been given the power to build Christ’s church, the Christian church! They have a momentous task ahead of them, yet with the Holy Spirit’s power they will do it!
In his book God Help Us! R. J. Chandler tells a wonderful story of a church that celebrated Pentecost Sunday in a unique way. They had the young children process down the aisle while carrying large cardboard flames to symbolize the Holy Spirit.
However, as in most children’s programs, not everything went smoothly. One little boy became upset when he realized he had forgotten his flame. Not having a piece of cardboard to carry, he ran up and down the aisle flapping his arms, then stopped and announced for all to hear, “I’ve lost my flame!” A little girl ran up to him and tore off a piece of her flame and handed it to him, “No, you haven’t,” she said. “Take this.”
When she saw the boy’s happiness at receiving a piece of her flame, the little girl decided that this was the gift that keeps on giving. So, she walked up and down the aisle, tearing off more pieces of her flame and passing them to everyone within reach. *
The little girl understood the real meaning of Pentecost. She wasn’t going to keep the awesome power of the Holy Spirit to herself. She was going to share her flame with everyone she could.
Pentecost was already a Jewish holiday, called the Feast of Weeks with the First Fruits of the wheat harvest, found in Exodus 34:22. So Jewish people were in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Weeks. That’s why there were people who spoke different languages.
Suddenly, these ordinary, uneducated men were able to speak in multiple languages and tell the wonders of God to the diverse crowd of people around them. The power of the Holy Spirit wasn’t just manifested in roaring wind and flames and preaching in other languages. It also resulted in great courage and love and unity and selflessness among the disciples. They created a new kind of gathering, one that had never been seen before, of people from every race and social class of men and women and slaves and slave owners. And all of these people worshiped side-by-side and shared all they had with poorer believers. Their gatherings were marked by overflowing praise and radical love for one another.
Romans 8:17 tells us, “Now if we are children of God, then we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” The disciples suffered as they watched Jesus die on the cross. Now they will share in his glory by building his church.
This brings us to our first C, which is communication. Notice what happened the day of Pentecost. Luke tells us that “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?” (Acts 2:4-7)
Humorist Bob Orben tells how his son came home from college for the holidays: “I asked him, ‘How are things going?’ He said, ‘Good.’ I said, ‘How’s the food?’ He said, ‘Good.’ I said, ‘And the dormitory?’ He said, ‘Good.’ I said, ‘They’ve always had a strong football team. How do you think they’ll do this year?’ He said, ‘Good.’ I said, ‘How are your studies going?’ He said, ‘Good.’ I said, ‘Have you decided on your major yet?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘What is it?’ He said, ‘Communications.'” Keep this conversation in mind when you go off to college. Your parents really want to know how you’re doing.
To the eyes and ears of the world, the church, which God put in charge of communications for the Good News, must appear a lot like Bob Orben’s college kid. We must learn how to communicate God’s love and mercy.
The second C is commitment. It thrills me to meet someone who is really committed to this church. I know I can count on you to be here, a few of you every time these doors are open. I know you will speak a positive, encouraging, uplifting word for this church whenever that word is needed. I know that this church is in your thoughts, your prayers, your budget, as well as your schedule.
This confirmation class in confirming their faith just said ‘I will’ to the question ‘as members of this congregation, will you faithfully participate in its ministries by your prayers, your presence, your gifts, and your service. That means that you will be here every Sunday and that you will pray for this church and serve in many ways. I will pick you up if you need a ride to church. I’m sure there are others here who will do the same.
The third C is compassion. Compassion is the ability to realize that it is not all about you and to be willing to help a hurting person. The church that came out of Pentecost was a compassionate church. They set up one of history’s first welfare programs for widows and orphans, for those who could not provide for themselves. They would not have grown in numbers as rapidly as they did if the common person had not been able to say, “They care about me, they understand what I am going through, I really do matter to them.” In the words we speak and the actions we take show other people God’s love, forgiveness, mercy and grace, and build the Kingdom of God.
Communication, Commitment, Compassion: when we communicate the love of God, by simply telling our story; when we are committed to telling others about God’s love; and when we show compassion to others, we build the Kingdom of God.
Your mission today, is to go from this place and build the Kingdom of God.
Pastor Rosemary DeHut
Resources: * (WestBow Press)