This past Sunday was Pentecost – one of my favorite holidays for believers. But what’s striking is that while we celebrate this day in the church…that’s about where it stops. And not only does it stop there but it seems to stop ON that day. We celebrate it on “Pentecost Sunday” but then that’s it. And trust me when I say that I am partially to blame. I, as a preacher of the Word and distributor of the Sacraments, the descending of the Holy Spirit should be just as celebrated as Christmas, Easter, Good Friday and any other holiday of the church.
Unsure why? Hopefully this blog post will inspire you (and I apologize for the length…but I feel it’s not even close to long enough).
We often associate “Pentecost” with the day the Holy Spirit descended upon the early Christians as read in Acts 2…and this is absolutely right. The group of believers were gathered around, waiting for that promised coming of the Holy Spirit from Christ and He shows up! He shows up like this violent wind from heaven! The whole house shakes, there were these flames that appeared out of nowhere, and all the people began to speak in tongues – just as the Holy Spirit enabled them. And the point of the “flaming tongues” was to empower the church (it is NOW the church) to be Christ out in his kingdom.
And HERE is why this is important. Just before this moment (actually – the week before), Jesus, before he ASCENDED to his throne on high, told his disciples to wait and not do anything UNTIL they were EMPOWERED by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:1-11). The reasoning? Because they simply couldn’t BE Him without having the power of Christ IN them.
We need to remember that the Holy Spirit is God. The third in the Trinity. And the “work” of the Holy Spirit is to WORK in our lives and point all things back to God the Father and God the Son. The Spirit’s work here on earth is to empower, strengthen, love, and fill us up with his presence SO THAT WE CAN BE HIM unto others.
Simply put: WE CANNOT BE unless HE IS first. And since He IS we ARE.
Think about that for a moment. You, me…all of us, are so riddled with sin that even the best intentions would become nothing unless the Holy Spirit gave us the strength and ability to push through the sin and see others. Not for who the sin has made them become…but for who they were meant to be and really are: children of God. And 1 Peter 4:10-11 reminds us that those gifts we receive from God, those strengthened abilities? Yeah…those aren’t meant for you – they’re meant to be used to serve and love others. And what’s really cool is that when we SEE this we then begin to see that each and every one of us has been given a DIFFERENT gift by the Holy Spirit. And again – a gift to not be kept for me but to be given to each other!
Does this sound familiar? It should…BECAUSE THIS IS THE CHURCH! Pentecost is about empowering the church to be the church! To love, serve, nourish, enrich, forgive, and BE Christ’s hands and feet in the world! And what’s fantastic is that we all have different and unique gifts (as Paul reminds us in 1 Cor 12:4-13). So Pentecost becomes this understanding that each and every one of us has been given a gift by God, that each and every one of us has a UNIQUE gift from God, that each and every one of us needs each other to fully use the gifts we have, and that when we come together we begin to fully BE who God desires and expects us to be. We’re like a puzzle when we’re all together. And what good is one piece without the rest? Or if you look at a puzzle and you see a piece or two missing…the puzzle is incomplete, right?
WE NEED EACH OTHER.
Pentecost is about empowering the rag-tag people who believe in Jesus Christ and want to share his ministry of love and reconciliation with others! Pentecost is about giving the people of God little bits of the power and gift that Christ possessed TO BE Christ to others! Pentecost is about acknowledging different gifts God has given to us and realizing that we need each other to BE the people of God. We’re like the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers who are strong on their own but combine them? Yeah…you have a super power-ranger (wow…super dorky of me).
It’s understanding that the same God who empowers you to sell all the stuff you own and move to Timbuctoo to begin translating Bibles and sharing the Gospel is the same God who empowers me to stay at home and pray for you every single day for the ministry and calling you are on because I’m good at prayer but not so good at “out there” stuff – and that’s the same God who empowers Gloria over there who isn’t good at remembering to pray and has no desire to sell all her things and move to the middle of nowhere but sure is willing to help financially support you year in and year out. You can’t do what you do in Timbuctoo without me and/or Gloria. I can’t do what I do without you – and without Gloria over here as well!
I know this is getting long…but I almost feel like I’m just getting started!
Pentecost…is about the continued blessings of God being poured out as a blessing and joy upon his people to be celebrated and used AS A GROUP to bring joy and goodness and love and hope…TO OTHERS. It makes me think of the question I consistently ask my own kids, “What good is a gift if you don’t use it to bring joy to others? What good is a gift if you keep it holed up inside and never express it outwardly to share with others? Gifts are not meant for you. Gifts are meant to be given and shared. THAT’S WHY IT’S CALLED A GIFT.”
Why is Pentecost so important? Why do we need to celebrate it more so than just 1 day out of the year? Well, let me ask you: why do you need a heart? The Holy Spirit IS our heart. Literally. WE CANNOT DO ANYTHING WITHOUT THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT! We cannot do what Christ has asked us to do without the Holy Spirit filling us, equipping us, encouraging us, replenishing us, and sending us! We try to do things on our own and we trip over words, we say the wrong things, we love the wrong way, we put ourselves above others, we put things above God, we repay hate with hate, evil with evil, war with war, and we keep gifts we’ve been given unto ourselves. Actually…we have NO GIFTS if we don’t have the Holy Spirit first!
Why do we need Pentecost? Because our hearts were never meant to beat for ourselves. If the most important command is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind”…and the second greatest and important command is likewise but unto others…how in the world do you think we do that? I know I cannot do that on my own. I cannot pump my heart for others. I cannot move my feet for others. I cannot open my hands and arms and have compassion and love for others by my own will and desires – but by the strength and power of the Holy Spirit…I can…and do. It is His work in my life, in YOUR life…that GIVES your life meaning and allows your heart to truly pump and beat and seek love FOR God and for others.
Just My 2 Cents and Thoughts