May 22, 2016

First Sunday after Pentecost  –  Acts 2:14a, 22-47 ****************************************************** What should we do? Confronted with complicity in the crucifixion of Jesus –  cut to the heart (we’re told) – the gathered people of Jerusalem ask disciples: What should we do? Quite the good question…And one of many in the book of Acts. When Jesus ascends into heaven (remember, two weeks ago), a pair of angels asks disciples “Why do you stand looking up into heaven?…” Leaving us to ponder where we should be looking… And when the Holy Spirit falls afresh soon after, and disciples start speaking in languages they didn’t know they knew – now the question from the crowd arises: “What does this mean?” (We should be asking ourselves this question every time we open the scriptures….) And good questions, asked from the heart…bring good answers… and… Now later that same day, as the apostle Peter continues preaching on the day of Pentecost, having first said, paraphrasing the prophet Joel: “In the last days, God declares, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh…Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved…” Now Peter goes to the Psalms, especially Psalm 16 (that we’ve read today– also just a dash of Psalm 110) – building the indictment of shared guilt for the death of Jesus….And proclaiming Jesus as the promised Messiah… Now crowds, cut to the heart, ask with one voice, “What should we do?” And… What should we do? Is still the question…for all God’s church… For all of us…  All the time… *** But lets not go too quickly to applications…. let’s linger a little while in the past… The common ground past… of all Christ’s church… For perspective… Pentecost is often called the birthday of the church, as the Holy Spirit makes new creation… from earthy disciples who fled in fear when Jesus was arrested fifty days earlier… (Peter not only fled – he also denied three times in one night that he even knew Jesus. Peter of course has since repented and been re-commissioned by Jesus… and…) Now here’s Peter, preaching powerfully the good news of Jesus, risen from the dead, ascended into heaven… Sounding like John the Baptist – who came proclaiming a baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins, preaching fiery revival by the River Jordan, saying, ‘I baptize with water, but the one… who comes after me will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.’ Now on the day of Pentecost, here comes the Holy Spirit, with the sound of a rushing roaring wind…In the form of tongues, as of fire, dancing in flaming brilliance on disciples, who speak now in the tongues of many nations. And the crowd, convinced of sin by word and Spirit, asks the same question crowds asked earlier of John the Baptist: ‘What should we do?’ And Peter replies in the same words John spoke – ‘Repent and be baptized’ – adding – ‘and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’  Many are baptized, then and there, on the spot… (John-the-Baptist-deja-vu-all-over-again…Except –) Now at Pentecost – the fire from heaven John expected to be the fires of dire judgement – instead brings awe and wonder and willingness to change…As the Spirit convicts of sin… And prepares us for...

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