Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:4-13
I have two questions for us today. Only two. Already, I’m hoping that some of you (who maybe didn’t get enough coffee yet or are in a perpetual brain fog because of quarantimes) are relieved to hear it’s just two questions.
Oftentimes, speeches or sermons focus on three points. Today, I have two simply questions to address here: What is Pentecost and why does it matter? That’s it. My hope is that after today’s message you’ll know the answer to those two questions.
There were a lot of events recorded in the Bible and we don’t celebrate each of them annually….so, why Pentecost? And why does it matter?
What is Pentecost?
Very technically, “pentecost” translates to “fiftieth” (pente/five)...it was celebrated on the 50th day after Passover. It is also called the Feast of Weeks or Feast of 50 Days in rabbinic tradition.
Pentecost, as we hear about in the book of Acts was when the first followers of Jesus were gathered together for the Feast of Weeks (Jewish tradition), praying, and then...they were able to understand one another no matter the language or where they were from. It was described as “tongues of fire” descending upon each person. (Hence, tiny flames...red...we wear red.)
Pentecost, as we observe it today is a remembrance of that former event and a celebration for the Holy Spirit in our lives.
A reminder to exercise our connection with the Holy Spirit. (I think we sometimes forget.) Just like we were reminded last week in our mental health series that exercising our muscles and, especially our heart, is important because it strengthens our body...we need to exercise our connection to the Holy Spirit. I believe that the more intentional we are to quiet our souls and take note of the Spirit in this world, the more likely we are also to feel empowered by the Holy Spirit to take action toward godly justice when needed.
What is Pentecost? It is the day we remember and celebrate God’s Holy Spirit being within each person and empowering us.
Which brings us to...
Why does it matter to us?
Pentecost matters to us today because it reminds us that we are empowered with the Holy Spirit. From time to time, we forget to tap into that knowledge, wisdom, love, and guidance. We are distracted by the many things that fill our lives - some necessary (like people and health issues), some expendable (like changing the wall color or watching a show). We get distracted and we forget to breath in the breath of God and breath out the love of God.
We are empowered to be the “Priesthood of all Believers” as 1 Peter says. This means it isn’t just up to the clergy people (the pastors, the preachers, the bishops) to do the work of the church - it is up to each and every person, empowered by that Holy Spirit to do the work of the church.
Our Scripture today describes how the Spirit enables each person differently. Like a physical body that is comprised of a lot of different parts, so is the body of Christ. But they all work together and toward a common goal.
Our common goal is God’s kingdom on this Earth - love of all people, mercy for all people, justice for all people, care for all people.
Pentecost matters because it empowers us with God’s Holy Spirit to see the world as God would have us see it.
The ending of the Scripture gave me chills as I read it again this past week - For just as...all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body —Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, we are of one Spirit.
Imagine each of us being able to understand one another, like that Pentecost long ago, no matter the difference in language - not just French v. English v. Russian v. Tagalog. But also understanding one another when the difference is based on geography or experiences or personality.
Just this past week I was talking with a former youth group member and he described a friend of his as “real dope.” One, I immediately felt old. Two, I had to use some quick context clues to know what he was saying. We were both speaking English, but our language was different.
In a broader context, we know that it is sometimes harder to understand a person - truly hear what they’re saying - if we grew up in different states, had different households, had different life experiences, have a different skin color. The Holy Spirit guides us in understanding each other through the obstacles.
Imagine each of us being able to understand one another simply because we are of one Body - the Body of Christ. I believe that is when God’s kingdom will come on this Earth -
when shootings no longer take place because one person was misunderstood to be a burglar
when protests are no longer needed because we take the time to listen and hear when someone says they can’t breathe
when instead of throwing darts in the form of words we ask questions in order to understand.
THEN, the words of the Lord’s Prayer will be fulfilled “on earth as it is in heaven.” THEN, we will be acting as one Body, Christ’s body.
In the meantime, we are not without the Holy Spirit. We can practice each and every day to draw closer to the Spirit’s nudging and lead.
We are all empowered by the Spirit - not just pastors or priests or any other word used for an ordained, clergy person. Every person has access to the Holy Spirit.
And, I believe, this Holy Spirit will propel us toward a world without discrimination, without hunger, without hate-filled violence.
I hope that today, this week, month, year, and lifetime that we all strive to grow to be more in tune with that Holy Spirit.