SER # 23Wa
FIRST UMC – NEBRASKA CITY
PENTECOST – SUNDAY MAY 31ST 2020
TEXTS: ACTS 2: 1 – 8; 12 – 15
THEME: THE COMING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
God is Good! All the time! And all the time! God is good!
Our Scripture today is Acts 2: 1 – 8; 12 – 15 “When Pentecost Day arrived, they were all gathered together in one place. Suddenly a sound from heaven like the howling of a fierce wind filled the entire house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be individual flames of fire alighting on each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages as the spirit enabled them to speak. There were pious Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. When they heard this sound, a crowd gathered. They were mystified because everyone heard them speaking in their native languages. The were surprised and amazed, saying, ‘Look, aren’t all the people who are speaking Galileans, every one of them? How can we each us hear them speaking in our native language? …….we hear them declaring the mighty works of God in our own languages. They were all surprised and bewildered. Some asked each other, ‘What does this mean?’ Others jeered at them saying, ‘They’re full of new wine.’ Peter stood with the other eleven apostles. He raised his voice and declared. ‘Judeans and everyone living in Jerusalem! Know this! Listen carefully to my words! These people aren’t drunk, as you suspect; after all, it’s only nine o’clock in the morning.
Word of God written for the people of God – Thanks be to God.
The Lord’s Prayer:
People were gathered on the Pentecost day when people celebrated the feast of harvest. We have to remind ourselves that Jesus was crucified during the Passover festivities. Here the Holy Spirit that Jesus had promised comes on the Pentecost Day
Pentecost took place 50 days after Passover. The coming of the Holy Spirit on this case came the same time when the Jews were celebrating the festival of weeks which was called also Pentecost. The feast of weeks marked the giving of the 10 commandments on mount Sinai
In our bible reading this morning we encounter a group of people who had gathered in Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost also known as the feast of weeks (Exodus 34:22).
Pentecost was one of the three annual Jewish festivals that every male Jew living within 20 miles from Jerusalem was required to attend. One; The Feast of the Unleavened bread also known as Pesach or Passover. Exodus 12 to 15. Two; The feast of weeks – Shavout or Pentecost or feast of ingathering. This took place 50 days after Passover or seven complete weeks. Exodus 34:22. This feast is also connected to the giving of the 10 Commandments. Three; The feast of the booths (Sukkoth) a day of assembly (Azaret). During this festival they build booths. Leviticus 23 & Deuteronomy 16.
Our story today, we know that this took place 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus resurrection was a true message that death was defeated hence when we die it only a transition to a full life in God.
The others festivals were: Passover (feast marking the remembrance of when they were delivered from Egypt where they had been slaves for over 400 years) and Feast of Tabernacles (2 Chronicles 8:13) also called the feast of in gathering (Exodus 23:16; 34:22). It was the gathering of the harvest and lasted for 7 days. People during feast of gathering people lived in the booths they had built from the branches.
During the festival of Pentecost Jerusalem was filled with people from all over the Jewish world then. Pentecost was a special time that even slaves were not required to work on that day.
Before coming of the Holy Spirit, the Pentecost (feast of weeks) which was an annual festival had two important reasons:
- It marked the giving of the Ten Commandment to Moses by God at Mt. Sinai
- It was a time of Thanksgiving when people brought in their first produce for blessing. It was a time of grain harvest.Some theologians have argued that the event of Pentecost the reverse of what took place at Tower of Babel: Genesis 11:7-9. During the Tower of Babel story People were wanting to build something big that can reach heaven (God) to show their glory and power. In other words, to show what they can do with their own powers. But God had a different idea for the people were seeking their own glory instead of God’s glory. It was then when God messed up with their plans by pulling down the tower and scattering people. God made people speak different languages where they could not understand each other and took different directions by going together according to those who could understand each other. In this story tower of Babel, we see where the unified language was self-seeking and tried to threaten the sovereignty of God power. When the Holy Spirit came on this day it captured a big audience and brought in a new beginning to the life of believers. It came as a fulfillment of Jesus promise to his church or his disciples for that matter I believe it became the birth of Christ church has he promised. Today I would like to remind you all that the Holy Spirit of God is here with us and will continue to be with us. Jesus promised the coming of the Holy Spirit which would be our; helper, counselor comforter and teacher. This Spirit continues to dwell among his people from the day of Pentecost (John 14:15-21) and is with us today. Our work today is to learn how this spirit works within the life of the church (us). In learning of the workings of the Holy Spirit, I would like to share the following faith lessons:
- But on the day of Pentecost It was God reaching out to people from heaven not the other way round. Though people came from different nationalities and spoke different languages to celebrate the festival of Pentecost when God came down, they could understand each other through the power of the Holy Spirit in them.
- Holy Spirit is a Free Gift from God: Free as it might sound but very few will embrace it. A gift is out there but it is not your gift if it is not received by you. The value and the place of the gift depend on the recipient. So, when Jesus promises this gift to you and me, he does not force us to receive but we do not have to do anything other than obey and allow ourselves to receive. When we receive gifts that are wrapped, we are always eager to open and see what is inside. It is therefore fair for you and me to ask what is in this gift of the Holy Spirit? When you accept this gift, you will find the following content: Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22).
- Holy Spirit brings new understanding to the believers: Through the Holy Spirit people will understand each other even when they have different language and come from different nationalities. The language that Jesus taught us and gave us was the ‘language of love.” Love never fail and has no end. This is because the goal and motivations are the same. Our goal of every believer is to be able to see the Lord and live with him in eternity. Our motivation is how to know God in a personal and live within his boundaries. Our fulfilment is to know that God loved us and send his only son to die for us. Our challenge is to love God with our mind heart and spirit and love our neighbor as ourselves. To these four we are called. Jesus in his human form was limited on where he could be at every given time. But God in Spirit is going to be with us wherever we find ourselves. We find the spirit of God in: jail, supermarket, gardens, and hostile territories, in schools our homes and the list can go on. The world can take away all our freedom, property, nationality, they can even isolate you from family and friends, Covid – 19 might force us to keep social distance, and even take your life but they can’t take the spirit of God love away from you.
- Holy Spirit brings boldness to believers: From the day of Pentecost the disciples were transformed from being cowards to men and women who were willing to put their lives on line for the sake of Christ. We can no longer be intimidated by the world because we serve the living God. We will do great things for our Lord in all places under all circumstances by all the means. We know of Peter and how he denied Jesus yet after Pentecost he preached his first sermon and called out those people who had persecuted Jesus and defended his fellow believers against the accusation of being drunk. He put the event of pouring of the Holy Spirit in historical perspective as he quoted the words of Prophet Joel: a) The spirit will come upon all flesh – male and female. b, Sons and daughters will prophesy, young men will see visions, c, old men dream dreams, d, God will show signs and wonders, e, everyone who call upon the name of the LORD shall be saved. (Joel 2:28,29)
- Holy Spirit give birth to the church universal: The church of Christ is one in the whole world. It might have different label like United Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Roman Catholic… written on church building walls but the true church which is our hearts remains is one. There are no longer Jews or gentiles, white or black, eastern or western, northerners or southerners but we are one Church. It is the writer of Revelation that reminds us of the gathering of the new church of Christ in heaven. “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands”. . . .(Revelation 7:9). In the Apostles Creed we testify of believing in One Apostolic and universal Church.