The Power of Pentecost

    This past Sunday we celebrated Pentecost.  Often we tout Pentecost as the “birthday of the church.” This is a great image and an easy way to connect kids with the concept that the coming of the Holy Spirit marked a special event in the life of those who follow Christ.  On the other hand, this birthday image can fall short.  There is more to Pentecost than what our contemporary birthday celebrations mean.

    I have heard more than one person say at the occasion of a birthday, “Congratulations, you survived another year.”  Birthdays mark a chronological advancement, but Pentecost is more than the fact that the Church has made it through another year of Christmas, Easter, Sunday School and all the rest of the things we do in our life together. 

     The first Pentecost experience was a critical event that not only fulfilled Jesus’ prophesy, but also transformed those whom he called to be his followers.  In the days following the crucifixion, we know what happened.  Doubt, fear and denial were rampant, even after Jesus visited the disciples. Jesus had brought the disciples to both a figurative and literal mountain top, and once he was ascended, he knew that they would fall back into the sinful behaviors.  Thus, he reminds them more than once that they will not be left alone in this world, but that God will provide another presence to help them along the way.  The Holy Spirit is an often misunderstood, and perhaps maligned, aspect of the Trinity.  Yet, if we think about what Jesus said, it should be the most comfortable and accessible aspect. 

    The Spirit of comfort, advocacy, and power that we are promised should empower us to follow Jesus more fully.  Yet, time after time, I hear folks just say, “I don’t get it.”  Herein lies the problem.  For far too long we have approached the Spirit of God with an Enlightenment sensibility.  We want to understand and study the Spirit.  This methodology is all wrong.  Scripture doesn’t provide us examples of the Spirit’s interactions that tell of an occurrence that can be dissected.  Rather, it is an experience.  Spirit wind blowing over the chaos of creation can’t be bottled and studied, it simply is.  Pentecost was and still should be an experience for us to have, not an occasion to mark. 

    Secondly, Pentecost isn’t a one day event that occurs like an annual birthday.  Yes, in the liturgical calendar we have one day that we call Pentecost.  This truly does a disservice to our experience of the Spirit.  We need to be continually reminded that we are Pentecost Christians.  Perhaps it’s because there is a stream of the Christian tradition that calls themselves Pentecostals, which practices their religious life in markedly different ways, that we shy away from thinking of ourselves as people of the Pentecost or people of the Spirit.  Nevertheless, we are people of the Spirit.  If we are truly Christ’s Body in the world, we must affirm that the Holy Spirit has true power in the world and our individual lives. 

    The Acts account of the Pentecost gives us a glimpse of why it’s so important.  Through the first experience of the Spirit’s power at the Pentecost, many wonderful things begin to happen.  As the Spirit claims the lives of those gathered, they are: united, emboldened, and gathered people.  The people were brought to “one accord” by the Spirit.  As we see in Peter’s actions, they began to be bold in their proclamation of Christ.  Perhaps the one thing that we forget is that the Spirit gathered a crowd.  As the exciting experience of the Spirit occurred, people from all over the city came to see what is happening.

    These principles are still at work in our lives today.  The church and it’s individual members are still being empowered by the Spirit.  My question for you today is, how is the Holy Spirit working in your life?  How do you experience the Spirit?  What Gifts do you see falling upon you?

5 thoughts on “The Power of Pentecost

  1. Eleanor… Glad to have you as a registered user and I would be glad to have these thoughts shared with your study. I pray that you are sharing them as a positive word. LOL

  2. Thanks, Geoff.

    I find your piece an on-point, clearly stated, and uplifting, up-building rendering of Pentecost and the Holy Spirit’s corporate and personal indwelling. The Spirit enables us to follow Jesus as Lord, not just believe Jesus is our Savior who forgives, extends grace, and waits for us in eternity. The trust and obedience part is hard but critical to a healthy relationship with the One who created us for it and calls us to it.

    Your teaching here balances Jesus as Savior with Jesus as Lord. The Spirit helps us, knowing we can’t will either. Not to be studied, yet to be believed with submission.

    We were to have started Acts on Monday via DVD and discussion but our space was usurped by luncheon overflow so I invited all to the 3rd floor. That was a hoot as only 4 got up there [not everyone is willing to step up to memory care] and they came at different times. The 3rd floor residents were sleepy or being wheeled in and out for meds, naps, changing whatever or playing a version of bingo just outside. Not disruptive to me but distracting to the Bible study attendees. So I just let them watch the first 5 chapters of Acts [NIV] and closed with a couple of general questions and prayer. So we’ll hit it again Monday, 2 chapters at a time. I like how the coming of the Holy Spirit and the Spirit’s impact on believers is depicted. I could see attention/engagement with the dramatized scripture and a desire for more.

    Now I have your message to share so I’ll attribute our delay to God’s will so I’d have this to enrich our study. How’s that for the Spirit’s work within a willing disciple?!

    Continuing to listen.

  3. No one else was moved by this piece? Probably just keeping own counsel. I shared from it today at Sunrise after our chapters 1 &2 study with 2 new members and got some thoughtful response. The Spirit is noticeably working among the residents there. That is to say, at least one resident has noticed it. I’m being flexible as we were preempted and delayed by another activity. So with Gaither Homecoming Gospel music on DVD streaming out, the group streamed in. It really has to be a Holy Spirit thing. 🙂 Alleluia!

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