Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Day of Pentecost C 2019

Acts 2:1-8 (9-21)

1When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

5Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7Amazed and astonished, they asked, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?
Easter is 50 Days; today, the Day of Pentecost is the 50th day of Easter.

Penta = 50. Similar words includes pentagram, pentagon, pentacle, pentatonic.

The church's year of grace features a trio of major festivals that relate to each Person of the Trinity/Godhead:

• Christmas – Nativity –> Creation

• Resurrection – Easter –> Redemption

• Pentecost – Whitsunday –> Sanctification / Theosis / Holiness

Next week we'll celebrate all three with the Feast of the Holy Trinity / "tri-unity"; after that we'll segue into the long, winding, growing, greening season of Ordinary Time—Season of the Spirit, Time of the Church. During those approximately six months, we'll count Sundays after Pentecost.

Last week we discussed Jesus' Ascension and the conversation (again!) beforehand. His earthly disciples asked Jesus if at this time he would "restore the kingdom to Israel," and Jesus told them to wait for his ascending followed by the descending of the HS and then they would be his witnesses. In other words, they would help "restore the kingdom," the reign, the sovereignty, God's shalom of all creation.

Pneumatology is the technical word for the branch of theology that's about the person, presence, and activity of the HS.

In his book of the Acts of the Apostles Luke brings us the only scriptural account of the Day of Pentecost. The HS is prominent throughout Luke's gospel—and in Acts, of course. The apostle Paul and the gospel of John also tell us a lot about the HS.

Luke 4:18-19 begins Jesus' public ministry with the HS; Doctor Luke's book of Acts begins our public ministry with the HS.

Today's account of the day of Pentecost from Luke Volume 2 or the Acts of the Apostles, starts with 120 of Jesus' followers gathered together. Strong tradition says they were in the same upper room as during the last supper, but the actual physical location remains unknown. Everyone from everywhere (Steve W provided an excellent list of the locations of everywhere) was in Jerusalem for the Jewish Pentecost that celebrated the wheat/grain harvest along with God's giving the Sinai Covenant or Ten Commandments via Moses. Interesting juxtaposition, because when people faithfully steward all creation by following the commandments, the ground often yields an abundant harvest. Just as the day of Pentecost is one of the three most major Christian festivals, the Jewish Pentecost was one of the three mandated festivals.

Observing Pride Day at the same time as Pentecost is very appropriate! God has no outsiders; as Jesus demonstrated, in God's world everyone is an insider. As Jesus' followers called, empowered, and sent out (an apostle is a sent person, using the same word as scripture uses for God's sending of the HS) people, we need to include everyone.

Acts 2:6 everyone heard in their own language. We discussed the importance of learning other spoken languages, and maybe especially cultural languages such as body language/gestures, table manners, appreciating social class differences. Pastor Peg mentioned emojis have become an unspoken language. Charles explained how positive gestures in some cultures are insults in others. As we reach out in wider circles, as more people from further away venture into our building and often into our community, becoming part of "we and us," understanding and being responsive to spoken and cultural languages is an extremely important aspect of welcoming everyone so they actually feel welcome.

Jesus' disciples asked him, "Will you at this time restore the kingdom?" Jesus responded, "The question is wrong! Wait here in Jerusalem, and you shall be my witnesses." The HS makes witness possible. The converse? Without the HS there is no witness.

The indwelling HS we receive in baptism enables us to live and serve as God's hands, feet, voice, etc. Remember the Golden Calf Event in Exodus 32? God said, "Moses, your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt." Moses replied, "God, your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt." Which is it? Moses' people or God's people? It's both/and.

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