The event of Pentecost isn’t exactly an easy one for us to visualize, like the stories of Jesus’ birth, and his resurrection…And it’s even more difficult to try and understand what it all means…
You have a crowd of peoples from all over the Ancient Near-East… They all speak different languages—and yet, somehow, they’re all here today…A rush of wind comes from the heavens, and everyone is filled with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit gives them the ability to speak the Word of God in languages other than their own. Everyone hears God’s Word in their own language.
If we find this whole scene bewildering, we’re certainly not alone… Some onlookers dismissed the whole event as nothing but a drunken frenzy.As the onlookers scratch their heads in bewilderment, Peter sets the record straight—and his words are the key for us to understand what the Pentecost means for us…
Here and now, God is fulfilling a promise that had been spoken through the prophet Joel. And incidentally, this is the same promise Jesus makes to his disciples in our Gospel for today. God is pouring out the Holy Spirit upon human beings—and the people who receive the Spirit are forever transformed.It’s no accident that the Holy Spirit comes upon the people as a wind. At the beginning of time, a wind from God swept over the formless void that was the earth—and brought all things into being. This is the way the Spirit came upon the people that day—as a wind from heaven. The Spirit gives them the power to do what would have otherwise been impossible. They receive power to do godly works.
And as people who receive God’s Holy Spirit in baptism, this same divine power comes upon us as well. It is the Holy Spirit (who speaks through the Scriptures) that draws us into a relationship with Jesus Christ—and it is the Spirit who gives us faith to believe that we are saved.The Holy Spirit enables us to offer our prayers to God—even in those times when we are so weak that we cannot put our prayers into words.
The Holy Spirit gives us the hope to believe that God is not powerless against all that is broken and evil in the world..Yet we so easily forget that…
The world is full of suffering and evil; and by all appearances, things get worse with each day that passes.Our lives fall into crisis; things fall apart, and the temptation is for us to we resign ourselves to our painful realities.
If we succumb to this temptation, we to believe that there’s no hope for our lives, and no hope for the world. We live as though God has abandoned us.Yet nothing could be further from the truth.
If we have baptism, we have the Holy Spirit—and that Spirit never leaves us. God will not withhold the Spirit from us when we sin, or when we forget about God entirely. The Spirit’s purpose is always to help us have faith in God and do God’s will.With God’s Spirit in you, you are not helpless against the worst that this life brings your way. We as the Body of Christ are not powerless against the unbelief and the suffering and the injustice that infect our world.
God’s Spirit has been unleashed, transforming all that is broken in the world. Nothing is going to stop God’s will from being done on earth—because God is more powerful than chaos and evil. God’s Spirit will not stop working until everyone knows the name of Jesus Christ and calls upon his name for salvation.This is God’s world. God is with us—and God will always have the last word.
Today is a day for us to dream dreams and see visions of this future. It’s a day for us to visualize our neighbors coming to baptism; to see children embracing their baptismal faith as their own. It’s a day for us to see visions of the hungry being fed, and the lonely and outcast of our society finding their home in the family of God. It’s a day for us to visualize our own congregation growing in faith and in numbers through our public witness of Christ’s love. It’s a day for us to envision compassion and peace and forgiveness bringing an end to wars and violence and all the evils people suffer.We can be dreamers and visionaries because these aren’t pipe dreams. This is God’s will. And the Holy Spirit gives us the power to bring these dreams to life. Our weaknesses and fears are no match for God’s grace. Nothing is impossible with God.
Today is a new Pentecost—because the power of the Holy Spirit is upon us. We are being transformed, from who we once were to the people God wants us to become. We can pray with full confidence that God will hear us—because the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf. And we can go out into the world with the power of the Holy Spirit within us—to do God-sized works.So on this Pentecost, let’s be dreamers. Let us dream of God’s plan for the world. And let us be doers. Let us go with the Holy Spirit as God transforms this world so that the love of Jesus Christ reaches every heart, and every corner of this world.