This is Pentecost…where the old is made new, where the celebration which honors the first fruits of the harvest takes on new meaning, where all the people of God are reminded of our connection to and for each other.
May 28, 2023
The Day of Pentecost
Act 2: 1-21
Scripture Reading: Pastor Rick Smith, Historic Second Christian Church
Sermon: Rev. Dr. Heather W. McColl, Midway Christian Church
Acts 2: 1-21
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?” Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.”
But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.’
The Day of Pentecost Acts 2:1-21
I have a confession to make: I’m tired. I’m tired, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually…Physically, I understand…it was the last week of school for my two and it seemed like we had something everything night and every day…But for the rest, the mentally, emotionally, spiritually tiredness, I’m discerning that it comes from the fact, that week and after week, I stand behind a pulpit and I know, I know in my bones, I know in my heart…our world is hurting so much right now. More and more, it seems like the shadows of hurt and hate are no longer creeping in. Rather they are rushing at us full force… Our country’s leaders tentative deal with the debt ceiling does not give me much hope especially when I know that there are real people worried and wondering how the current political crisis will affect their bottom line while our leaders think in abstract terms and political gains; and then closer to home, in our very own community…there is so much sickness. There is so much grief. There are also things we don’t want to acknowledge…things like hunger, poverty, drug addiction. We have grandparents raising grandchildren. We have people disconnected from the community. We have loneliness becoming an epidemic. There is so much hurt and brokenness happening right here in our own community yet…
This, this is the world into which we have been called as Jesus’ disciples. This, this is the world into which we are called to go and tell the good news of God’s love. On this day of Pentecost, we tell the story of how Holy Spirit came to renew our souls, to set our hearts on fire for this broken, hurting, struggling, often hate filled world; On this day of Pentecost, we tell the story of how the Holy Spirit came and sent us out into this broken world to proclaim release to the captives, to share the good news with the poor. On this day of Pentecost, we tell the story of how the Holy Spirit came for a time such as this, to call us, to challenge us to go out and proclaim the good news of God’s love for all of God’s people.
And whether we like it or not, this is our call. This is our mission. This is why we do what we do as disciples of Christ. Engaging, connecting, seeing the brokenness, the hurt, and finding hope in the midst of it all is what we signed up for when we took Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. And whether we like it or not, as people of faith we are facing a new reality. We are facing a choice, a choice which will affect how we live our lives, a choice which will shape our decisions and our actions…As people of faith, as we encounter more and more of the brokenness and hurt which fills our world, we have a choice laid out before us…Do we live in fear of the other or do we have the strength, the courage to come together, all in one place, living together as brothers and sisters, not letting death have the last word?
I know how the world wants us to answer this question. But as a person of faith, I don’t take my cues from the world. I take my cues from the story, God’s story, which tells me time and time again, love and light will overcome any brokenness which we might face. And as I have lived with the Pentecost story this week, I have been reminded of this fundamental piece of our faith story again and again.
Here’s why I say this: As we look at our text this morning, we are told that during the Feast of Pentecost, they were all together in one place. Now to give us all a little bit of church history, we need to know that the Feast of Pentecost didn’t start with the disciples. It was a part of the story of God long before the disciples ever gathered in that upper room.
The Feast of Pentecost was a time when people gathered to celebrate the fifty days after the first harvest. It was a time to celebrate God’s abundance. It was a time to celebrate God at work in this world, providing for, caring for, supplying the needs of God’s people. So it should be no surprise that as the disciples gathered to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, God intended to do all this again and more.
Here they were, the disciples all together in one place, not knowing who they could trust, not knowing what their next steps would be, Here they were, waiting in the upper room, afraid of what was outside of their walls. And really who could blame them? Fifty days before, they had watched the powers that be arrest Jesus, falsely accuse him and then crucify him as a political prisoner.
What they saw, how the powers the be treated the one that they thought would be the Messiah…well, that was not what they signed up for when they agreed to follow Jesus. They had hoped that this man would overthrow the powers that be, that this Jesus, would bring in a new world order where of course, the disciples would be in charge. When the disciples agreed to be followers of Jesus, they had hoped Jesus would make everything right again. As the disciples gathered in the upper room, they were afraid, not wanting to face this new reality, a new reality that would take them out of their comfort zones. A new reality that would have them engaging and encountering the other, you know the people society wanted to ignore or at least pretend that they didn’t exist. In that upper room, the disciples were afraid to face this new reality because it would challenge them to come together as the living breathing Body of Christ here on Earth, working together to bring healing and wholeness for all of God’s children.
During that Feast of Pentecost all those years ago, the Spirit began moving and shaping the disciples. The Spirit of God shattered the disciples’ expectations. It moved them beyond their fears, bringing forth new life. In that moment, during the Feast of Pentecost, a time to celebrate God’s continued work in this world, there was a new wind of Creation stirring. There began a fire for justice burning within the hearts of each of these disciples. There began a new understanding of what it meant to live in community, to live as community, all together in one place, as Beloved Children of God.
During that Feast of Pentecost all those years ago, a new period of promise and passion began for all the people of God. In that upper room, the breath of God formed a new community of the people of God. A community for the whole people of God: young and old, male and female, Jew and Gentile. At that moment The Spirit of God was poured out on all flesh giving the disciples the strength and the courage to come together, all in one place, to be the living breathing real Body of Christ, this world needed them to be.
On that day, the disciples’ eyes were opened to what God was already doing in their community. In that moment, everything changed. No longer would fear drive their decisions. No longer would they stay confined behind these walls. Now they understood that it was a time to move forward into a new way of being, into a new way of doing, into a new reality of the Kingdom of God here on earth, just like it does for us today.
Or let me say it this way… As many of you may know, the McColl family has become indoctrinated into the track world. And what we have discovered is that just like anywhere else, it is divided into what happens on the track and what happens when you are sitting under your tent waiting for your next event to happen.
Yesterday was the culmination for the middle school track season, we were at a high school in Louisville for the state championship. We had gotten there early to set up our tent, only to discover that our summer track coach had set up her tent next to ours. We talked with the various parents gathered under the tent. Our kids played together while waiting for the next event. And we would go up as a group to cheer on the kids for their various events.
And I have to tell you we got the strangest of looks…granted it was because of the loud yelling, I’ll give you that but it was also because we were not cheering for just one team. We all had our various school shirts on..Woodford County, Ej Hayes, Bryan station, Morton, etc. But there we were as one group, cheering for the kids on each other’s teams.
We didn’t think anything of it but apparently that was the biggest faux pas in track. Because you only cheer for one team. You only cheer for one kid. Because how else are you going to know who is the best? Someone finally asked the group…Why were doing that…cheering for kids who were not connected to our school? And I love the answer coach gave…She said..,”These are my kids. Doesn’t matter the school jersey or event. Doesn’t matter if they are competing against each other. These are my kids, running the race, doing what they do, and loving being together.”
In theological terms, here’s what I heard the coach saying to all those who didn’t understand what was happening under that day yesterday… I heard her saying that for us as people of faith..through the sending of the Holy Spirit then and now, God is breaking into our lives and saying, Faith is not passive. Faith is active. Faith is grounded in a passion for all of God’s people, for all of God’s creation. Then and now, God is saying The day of the Lord has come. Now is the time for young and old to dream new dreams. Now is the time for sons and daughters to prophesy. Now is the time for us as ones who follow a Risen Savior to proclaim that Love and light will always overcome any darkness we may face.
Because just like for the disciples all those years ago, the Feast of Pentecost represents a new beginning for us. It represents our very active faith as we make the choice to face this new reality with courage and strength, letting nothing silence our voices of hope, our voices for justice, our voices for reconciliation ever again. Today, as people of faith, as ones filled with God’s Spirit, we are no longer letting fear shape our decisions. We are no longer allowing the world to tell us what we can and cannot do. Instead, we are celebrating. We are celebrating the fact that we know, we know we serve a God who is powerful and mighty. We serve a God who has called us to follow a living Savior who came to show us a new way of being, a new way of being in community, a new way of being together all in one place. During this Feast of Pentecost, we are celebrating our God, a God who has given us the courage and the strength to be the living Breathing Body of Christ, working to bring healing and wholeness for all of God’s people.
Today, as we gather all in the once place, we are opening ourselves to the wind of the new creation. Today we are asking God to sweep over us, to turn our dry as dust lives and faith into a new being, into a new passion, into a new mission for the Kingdom of God. Today, we are celebrating and embracing this new reality, knowing that we have nothing to fear. We know our God is at work in this world, providing for us, caring for us, supply for all our needs just like God has done since the beginning of time. As people of faith, now filled with the Holy Spirit, we are living in God’s amazing grace!
On this day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit has come…And as followers of Jesus Christ, we are being called to quit asking the questions based on fear and instead, ask our God what is required of us. Because Maybe just maybe as ones who are now filled with the Holy Spirit, we will figure out how to really come together, all in one place, living as brothers and sisters, and proclaim to the world that our God is still at work in this world, bringing healing and wholeness for all of God’s children. Maybe just maybe, one day we will become the people God created and called us to be…people of hope, people of love, people of justice, Maybe just maybe…one day, we will become the living Breathing Body of Christ this world needs us to be. Because maybe just maybe the world will see us, gathered all in one place, doing what we do, loving being together while we live out, while we share God’s amazing grace. May it be so.
See also: Theology Tuesday for Sunday, May 28, 2023 – The Day of Pentecost Acts 2:1-21.