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Pentecost Sunday
pastor corner

Each religious tradition brings something special to the ecumenical feast. Roman Catholics are known for their work with social justice; Baptists are good evangelists, and Lutherans (I hope!) are known for our rigorous study of scripture and preaching, but I guess I need to make friends with some good Pentecostal Christians because I don’t know many believers who have a great understanding of the Holy Spirit. If you asked Sunday School kids to draw you a picture of Jesus, you would get some fabulous pictures. If you asked them to draw you a picture of God, the Creator, you’d probably get several sketches of an old man with a beard sitting on a cloud, but if you charged those students to draw the Holy Spirit, I am afraid that many of them wouldn’t know what to draw! Even us grownup Christians don’t often know what to make of God, the Holy Spirit.


Pentecost Sunday is coming up May 19th. It’s the third biggest festival of the Christian year, behind Easter and Christmas, but it is by far the least understood, and not for lack of trying. The Bible gives us the exciting story of the coming of the Spirit in Acts 2:1-21. Jews from all over the region have come to Jerusalem for the annual Spring harvest festival, and God starts blowing wildly in their midst. Miraculously, people from all these different nations can actually understand each other, and they start speaking to one another about God’s amazing deeds of power. Unfortunately, what most of us remember about this text is how hard all those foreign groups are to pronounce—Parthians, Meedes, and residents of Mesopotamia!


Pentecost is about God’s Spirit let loose on the church and the world. Jesus is born in a manger to share our life with us. He lived and taught, died and rose, to show us that love is the countercultural foundation of the world, but as long as Jesus was around, all that extraordinary grace was contained in his person. With the arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, that life-changing grace breaks its corporeal containment and is available to enter each one of us. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of Jesus in the world.


It's striking that the first evidence of the presence of God’s Spirit is that people from different places and cultures can LISTEN to each other. What a lesson that is for us today, when we all want to stay comfortably in our own enclaves of people who think like us and act like us. We know that God is present when we cross our usual boundaries and hear one another.


Likewise, the Holy Spirit helps us to SPEAK about God’s deeds of power. Christians and non-Christians all share the same world. What makes us different from our secular neighbors is how we think about God’s world and how we talk about it. Faithful people see God on the move everywhere in the world. We see God’s winds blowing in large and small ways. Even more, we try to catch that breeze and flow with our Lord.


I invite you to celebrate Pentecost with joy this month. Look for living examples of God at work in the work, and join our God on the loose every chance you get. Christians are Pentecost people!


God Loves You, and So Do I!


Pastor Devin Strong

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