June 4, 2017 – Pentecost

Pentecost    June 4, 2017   (Psalm 104, 1 Corinthians 12:4-13, John 7:37-39) Acts 2:1-21, 37-42 *************************************** All-at-once – almost-as-if-by-magic – a wild-wind is blowing inside the house, loud-as-a-hurricane – flaming-tongues-as-of-fire are blazing and dancing upon those gathered – who, now, are all speaking-in-languages-they-didn’t-know-they-knew – great crowds of Pentecost festival pilgrims now also are gathering… to listen to the sounds of their native languages spoken – asking “What’s going on?” None of this is magic. None of this is accident or coincidence. And… disciples know what’s going on, because they have been preparing. Making ready for this gift of the Holy Spirit. Doing what Jesus said to do. Gathering together for worship, prayer and study. Practicing faith together in community, day-by-day. There’s no way they could have known what to expect. But when the Spirit of the Living God comes upon them… They’re ready… (and…) Now here’s the apostle Peter, who famously had many difficulties keeping his focus…while Jesus was with the disciples in person – now preaching the good news of Jesus boldly. Preaching from the prophet Joel, re-working key phrases. Joel, many hundreds of years earlier said “In those days, says the Lord, I will pour out my Spirit…” Now Peter says “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit…” Signaling the last days of the old order have begun… And these last days we’ve been in ever since… Are also the first days of the kingdom of God on earth… (And if it doesn’t feel as if we’re living in the kingdom, remember – Jesus told us the kingdom comes along with many birth pangs…) Peter also doubles down now on the phrase “And they shall prophesy” – adding a repetition of this phrase that’s not there in the original text of Joel. Highlighting the all-inclusive giving of the Spirit, for men and women, old and young, slave and free – saying again,  “and they shall prophesy” to add yet-more emphasis… And in making these and several other modification to the text of Joel, Peter is faithful to the word of God… Since he’s doing all this under the supervision and guidance of the same Holy Spirit who inspired Joel’s prophecy in the first place. The same Spirit who now inspires creative adaptation of the prophet’s words for a new situation in time and place … and… Guided by the Holy Spirit, Peter now is able to interpret both the word of God and also the needs of the gathered crowd. Able to help the questioning crowd progress  from their first question: “What’s going on?” – on to the even better question – “What should we do now?” (And…) It’s not that Peter’s suddenly smarter than he used to be. It’s just that he’s learned to be responsive to the leading of the Spirit working in him, helping him come up with the right words at the right time… Perhaps we may remember times when we’ve been thinking and praying hard about something…And someone comes along and names exactly what we’re concerned about, without us even saying a word. (Now we’re not talking about driving by an ice cream stand on a hot day and everyone spontaneously saying “ice cream!” in unison. Nothing against ice cream – but – not every craving for ice...

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May 15, 2016

Pentecost   May 15, 2016 (Psalm 104, Genesis 1:1-5, Ezekiel 37:1-14) Acts 2:1-21 ************************************************************* “What does this mean?” The sound as of a roaring wind – the sight of flaming tongues like blazing fire… Disciples speaking languages they didn’t know they knew – and people from many nations understanding all they say – as the Holy Spirit is poured out on the day of Pentecost… and… “What does this mean?” is the question…everyone watching and listening is asking… And ‘What does this mean?’ is still the question today. There’s such a lot going on here on this day of Pentecost – that we need help understanding… As we seek to find ourselves in the story… and locate our landmarks for navigation… The book of Acts is a travelogue – the narration of a series of geographic journeys from Jerusalem out to all the ends of the earth… But Acts is much more truly a spiritual travelogue. We’ve talked before about the journey and our need for the spiritual equivalents of map and compass and GPS… To know where we are and   where we’re going… And always we need recognizable biblical landmarks to help our navigation… So we start again with the opening words of the bible: “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth… a Wind from God swept over the waters…” Or– as other translation say: “In the beginning… the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters…” Both translations are correct. Wind and Spirit are the same word in both Hebrew and Greek, the languages of the Old and New Testaments. And the same word translated as wind or Spirit – can also be translated as breath…As with Breathe on me, breath of God… As with God telling the prophet Ezekiel –  prophesy breath to the dry bones of Israel. Now when we hear in our reading from Acts – “…suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind…” With ears attuned to biblical language, we’re thinking of the Wind from God that sweeps over the waters… The Spirit of God… over the waters in the beginning. (We could also read on in Genesis and be reminded of God breathing God’s breath of life into the first human prototype…) We could revisit Exodus and be reminded of the angel of God appearing to Moses as a flaming bush that burns and burns but never burns out… We could look to many other places in scripture where fire and flame, wind and Spirit…  communicate the presence of God… ( “You ride on the wings of the wind, you make fire and flame your messengers…”Our psalm today says of God…) With a little help from familiar landmarks we can better understand where we are and where we’re going… As God’s Windy-Spirit rocks the house – and blows loud through the midst of gathered disciples on Pentecost morning. Now as disciples are speaking in foreign languages we are yes, amazed and astonished…. But as we remember now this is the same Spirited Wind of God that starts everything in the beginning – the same holy Breath of God that breathes dry bones back to life… Now we begin to realize… Pentecost is New Creation… As now the Holy Spirit falls afresh on us…...

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May 24, 2015 – Coming down

Romans 8:22-27 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 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. Acts 2:5-21 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.” But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ **** Pentecost Sunday   May 24, 2015   (Romans 8:22-27) Acts 2:1-21 ******************************* They were sitting there, together, all in one...

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June 8, 2014 – Pentecost

Acts 2:1-13 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. 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 their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” Acts 2:14-24 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power…..” Acts 2:36-47 “Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for...

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