Let’s Celebrate Pentecost
Before we can celebrate Pentecost lets talk about what it is. Many refer to Pentecost as “the birthday of the church.” It is the Christian holiday which is celebrated fifty days after Easter Sunday, it commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ while they were in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Weeks.
Matthew L. Skinner, associate professor of New Testament at Luther Seminary, doesn't like to refer to Pentecost as "the birthday of the church." He wrote in The Huffington Post that the day is much more interesting than that. "In Christian tradition, Pentecost brings the 50-day Easter season to a close," he wrote. "But it also points forward toward new beginnings, for it's when Christians celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit and the new horizons this opens up in the story of God's commitment to the world." “Pentecost Sunday, he stressed, isn't just about celebrating the past or "stoking nostalgia about the church's supposed glory days." Rather, "Pentecost is an invitation to dream. For when a community of faith quits dreaming dreams, it has little to offer either its members or the wider world."
Right now we need to look at Pentecost as our chance to begin again. As we work towards reopening the church, renewing our faith and dreaming of the future.
Pentecost was a huge Jewish Festival.
A new day had dawned!
The New had Come!!!
The Law brought death; the Spirit brings Life!
This frightened band of disciples…
…this lost and confused band of Jesus followers…
…were given new life—a flash of insight…
…they finally understood what Jesus had been teaching them…
…and it was time to go public—It was time to start telling the world!!!
And that is the Great Commission of Jesus Christ…
…that is the mission of the Christian Church and of this Church…
… “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
This is our job!
This is our calling!
This is what makes us alive and causes us to thrive!!!
Imagine meeting new people and inviting them to come to worship with us at LUCC.
When you do that you are fulfilling Jesus’ Great Commission!!!
Imagine if we all did this all the time!!!
The Holy Spirit is with us.
The Holy Spirit lives within all of us who believe.
The Holy Spirit gives us the power to witness, to testify, to be ministers of the Gospel together, and to invite the lost, broken and hurting world to come…
…come partake of this glorious celebration!!!
God is alive and God is with us always!!!
Rejoice and worship.
Rejoice and become a part of what God is doing here in our little church.
Leave your depression behind.
Know that there is a treasure that beats the world—hands down!!!
Know that there is a God Who loves You—no matter what the world may say or think!!!
Come and know!!!
This passage shows us with crystal clarity the power of the Cross!!!
When the people realized just what they had done in crucifying Jesus, their hearts were broken.
In John 12:32 Jesus predicted, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself. What exactly is Jesus saying here? First lets clarify that Jesus was not making himself out to be some kind of magnet-man - like some kind of super-hero. Jesus wanted everyone to come to this point, not just himself. Therefore, he wanted to bring everyone along with him. He wanted everyone to love and serve God, and be exalted - spiritually.
There is a tale of a missionary that told the story of Jesus to an Indian Village. Afterwards she showed the life of Christ in slides projected against the whitewashed wall of a house. When the Cross appeared on the wall, a person from the audience got up and ran over crying: “Come down from that Cross, Son of God. I not you, should be hanging there.”
When we understand, through the power of the Holy Spirit, what God has done for us—we are “cut to the heart,” and along with the people witnessing the coming of the Holy Spirit of Pentecost we ask: “what shall we do?”
The world is asking that question today, and they are looking to YOU for the answer!
“Repent” said Peter.
What does that mean?
Originally, the word repent meant a second thought.
Which means that the second shows that the first thought was wrong; and so the word meant a change of mind.
But, to be honest, a change of mind demands a change of action!!!
We may change our minds and come to the conclusion that our actions were wrong; but we may be so in love with our old ways that we will not change them.
Have you ever witnessed to a person and convinced him that God calls him to repent and give his life to Christ. Then when it comes time to ask them for a decision, they you, “I’ll sleep on it.” Years pass and they are still sleeping on it and living a most miserable existence—striving after the ‘so-called’ pleasures of this world. never letting go of those old ways.
Peter exhorted the crowd to “Repent…receive the gift of the Holy Spirit…”
“he warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
Not everyone heeded this call.
But about three thousand people did!!!
Not everyone will listen to our message.
Not even close!
But some will, if we do the job God has called us to do!
God’s grace is so awesome!
When we repent, something happens to the past.
We have God’s forgiveness.
Look at it this way…
When we were children and had done something wrong, there was an invisible barrier built up between us and our mother or father.
But when we went and said that we were sorry, in most cases the old relationship was restored and everything was right between us again.
Repentance and God’s forgiveness puts us right with God!!!
And when we repent, something happens for the future as well.
We receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and in that power we can win battles we never thought we could win and resist things that, by ourselves, we would have been powerless to resist.
Repentance definitely involves the past, present and future!!!
How many of you love Oreo Cookies?
It’s hard not to, there are two chocolate cookies; one on one side—one on the other. The cookies are fine, but most of us come to understand, from an early age, that it’s the creme filling in the middle of the cookie that makes an Oreo so irresistible. We just know to go straight for that cream filling. In the same way that those two chocolate cookies hold the Oreo together and the really good stuff is between… The different stages of the Christian Journey hold our lives together, but the really good stuff is what happens in between!!!
We are living in the in between!
Jesus has come!
The new age has arrived.
The Holy Spirit is available to us all.
There will be an end to this age…
…when Christ returns to judge the living and the dead.
But in the in-between, we’ve got a whole lot of exciting and neat things to do.
It’s the most important stuff.
It’s the creme in the cookie.
We have a lot to learn about God.
All of us should consider it a wasted day when we do not learn something new and when we have not moved more deeply into the wisdom and the grace of God.
We have much Christian fellowship to enjoy.
We have people who love and care for us.
We have folks who are on the journey with us, and are here to help us along the way.
We are a band of brothers and sisters.
And the Church is a real Church only when it has that kind of fellowship!
We are blessed by the power and privilege of prayer!
We know that we can’t possibly face life with our own strength and the good news is: We don’t have to!
We are to always go to God before we go out into the world; we are able to meet the problems of life only because we have first given them to God and met with God about them!
The Church is also a place where great things happen!
You may not see it visibly, or you might, but the lives of the persons in this congregation are being changed by God all the time!
Signs and wonders are all around us!
When we expect great things from God and attempt great things for God—things happen!
The Church is a place of sharing.
We are to have an intense feeling of responsibility for one another and for our community and our world.
The Holy Spirit gives us empathy and calls us to action.
We should be unable to bear having too much when others have too little!
Truly, we are our brother’s keeper!
We have a great call and a great responsibility to share our resources with those around us so that everyone has enough!
We are responsible, you and I for the people who are without homes, without clothing, without food.
We can help ourselves.
So many others can not!
The Church is also about worshiping God.
We must never forget that there is no such thing as a ‘solitary Christian.’
God’s Spirit moves upon us when we come together to worship.
It is our life-blood.
The Church is also to be a HAPPY CHURCH!!!
A gloomy Christian is a contradiction in terms.
The Church is also a community whose people, others cannot help but like—or at least admire!!!
Holy Spirit filled Churches have a charm and attractiveness about them.
Real Christianity is the most beautiful thing in the world!
Peter said to the new believers, “you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
Yes, Litchfield United Church of Christ is the crème in the middle of an Oreo Cookie!!!
That is you, that is me, and that also applies to those who are to come!!!
You have a great future ahead of you.
Great things will happen here.
And the reason?
Because the Holy Spirit is among you!
Rejoice and be glad!!!
A new and wonderful thing is about to happen in your midst!
Christ has died! Christ has Risen! Christ will come Again!
The Holy Spirit has Come!!!
The cookies are filled with crème!
Go out and invite the world to experience this party with you!
‒ Pastor Pam