Reading for Monday, June 10, 2019 — 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 filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. NIV
Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday. Pentecost is a Jewish celebration of the first harvest. It gets its name from the fact it is celebrated 50 days following the celebration of Passover which was the time of Jesus’ crucifixion. We know that Jesus appeared to his disciples at varying times, places, and groups over a period of 40 days. When we consider the command of Jesus at his “Ascension” for the eleven to return to Jerusalem to wait for the Holy Spirit to descend upon them we know they waited ten days before the gift was bestowed.
The disciples had been obedient having returned to Jerusalem and the confines of the Upper Room where Jesus had shared his last supper with them. Obedience is the first requirement for receiving the Holy Spirit. The second was being together. We may grow weary of church, of gathering together with other believers. There are more pertinent things for us to do than singing hymns, reciting liturgy and listening to a lecture. At least that is how some people feel about worship. It is something you should do but better if done on a bad day weather-wise and even then the weather may be too unpleasant to venture out.
What I just said projects a sad image of church, but realistic in terms of how many people view it. Yesterday was a wonderfully sunny and warm day. We have not had too many of those around here lately. There is yard work to get done and fun in the sun with family to warrant putting off gathering with others for worship. We are pressed for time with which to balance all our interests and activities that worship gets pushed to the background of convenience.
I took off last Sunday due to the time spent in four long days of church meetings. I was tired and resisted any idea of further attendance doing “church.” I caught a glimpse of how it might feel for others who find excuse to ignore corporate worship. I had a great time indulging in myself. Others did the same as I noticed our attendance was dramatically diminished. So, why bother? I love Jesus and I know he commanded me to love others who share my faith. I know that God deserves some undivided attention and that we have been entrusted together to learn, grow and serve.
The disciples did not look at fellowship with one another in such a negative way. They had gone through trial capped off by the experience of the Lord’s resurrection and ascension to heaven. They had questions and the uncertainty of what was to come next, so they obeyed Jesus’ instruction. I am sure they spent their time reviewing what they had experienced and what Jesus had taught them. Being together filled a need and was not burdensome as it is for many today.
Let us remember that it was in the context of community that the Holy Spirit came. It works that same way for us today. I know the intersection of the Spirit with us can happen on an individual and personal level but not as commonly as when believers are together. Jesus wants us together so that we can experience the impact of his presence. It is from the power of the Spirit’s presence that we discern and move into significant and impactful witness and service. Hopefully we can discover Jesus in our fellowship with one another. If we do not we best work on our heart and the way we worship.
The Spirit came upon them dramatically and together the disciples presented a compelling witness to Jesus. Our oneness in Spirit and witness can have as significant an impact today. I wonder who heard the wind or saw the flames of fire. Is this what the eleven saw or the crowd in the street? I believe it was the disciples. What the crowd experienced was a group of people who had followed Jesus now out of seclusion and proclaiming the truth about Jesus.
Wind is powerful and for me represents the conviction of the disciples regarding the message of the gospel. They were not ashamed to profess publically what they believed in their heart and minds to be true. They saw flames of fire. Fire is powerful and for me signifies motivation. Both wind and flame are images for the presence of God. While wind blew in their midst so the fired resided of each. Only as we each catch the fire of passion for Christ will a powerful wind of confidence and conviction flow through a body of committed followers of Christ.
How do we experience a Pentecost for ourselves? Only by remaining obedient to what we already know of Christ; only by meeting together to review the teachings of Christ and the experience we share of grace together. The power of Pentecost comes when God sends it and only as we wait expectantly for God to move us out of our huddles and into the streets or community where we live. We take Christ to others rather than wait for them to come to us. We express the enthusiasm for what God has done in us through Jesus and what we know he can do in others if they but open themselves to the possibility of Jesus entering their lives too.
May you encounter Pentecost for yourself!