The Day of PENTECOST, June 4, 2017 Tabor Lutheran Church
TEXTS: Acts 2:1-21 / Psalm 104: 25-35, 37 / 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13 / John 20:19-23
We’re celebrating the festival of Pentecost, the flame of the tongues opening hearts to the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s what Jesus had promised his followers, the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. It was that which was promised by the prophet Joel, “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit….Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Power in the name of the Lord…The Holy Spirit is poured out so that we can name our power source and speak of God’s deeds of power. This power, the Holy Spirit, will come alongside of us and be with us as an advocate, a helper – one who doesn’t free us from challenges, but empowers and equips us so that we can work together for the “common good”.
I’ve been thinking about power connectors, things that have to be connected to a power source so that they can function to the best of their capabilities. The power surge protector shuts off when too much power comes at one time, power that will damage pieces of equipment, like a lightning strike hitting a TV, computer, DVD, refrigerator. It shuts off power that will damage, destroy, possibly could even kill. Other kinds of connectors are a power cord and an extension cord. It links the appliance with the direct power source. It makes it possible for the appliance to work, for the computer to turn on, link us with the internet, connects us with network links for consumer business, for educational purposes, for research, for connections with work associates, friends and family through e-mail. The power source provides us with entertainment on television, allows us to use our DVD, I-pad, and other electronic devices; it is used to charge our phones, keeps our perishable food products safe for us to eat, unless we leave them unattended and unused for too long a period of time. The power source provides us with working appliances that enhance our quality of life. I further examined the power surge protector… the information that came with it says to use it only in dry locations. We apparently are not to use it where there is a water source – a precaution against electrocution. I know that’s true also of the other cords, and true of any device that connects itself to a power source of electricity. Now I’d like to make our analogy more human, more us.
It’s been 50 days since Passover for the Jews. In Acts we read that there was a sound from heaven, like the rush of a violent wind, like a tornado, filling the entire house where they are gathered. This wasn’t a gentle breeze blowing. Divided tongues of fire rested on each of them, they are filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Can you even begin to imagine this? Talk about a power surge! Can you imagine what it would be like to be there and have one of these believers now empowered to tell the message of God’s powerful deeds, of God’s powerful love for us? Can you imagine what it was like for these believers to be power-charged from heaven, to know that the power surge came from God’s throne! Can you imagine what it would be like to understand in your own native tongue the message delivered by someone who appeared to be from another nation, but speaking so you can understand their message, so that you could grasp it, you could get it? We hear that they were amazed, astonished, bewildered, perplexed, says they even “sneered” and suggested that the disciples were drunk. If we were there, might we not also feel like they did? Might we think they were hallucinating or on drugs? This is just the opposite of the story of the Tower of Babel, where their language was confused and the message spoken not understandable. Here, the power given brings clarity; the message is understandable to every tribe, every nation, to each person. The message is with the listeners’ grasp. Amazing!
Some of these believers had not shared in the experience of the 12, have not been with Jesus and other followers. They weren’t with Jesus when he promised to send the Advocate. They weren’t present for the final words of encouragement, of direction and explanation. Jesus reminds them that there’s more for them to hear, but at that particular time, as his time leading to the cross nears, they can’t hear all that they need to know. It is the Spirit of truth who will come and guide them, will speak and declare all that is from Jesus and from God. What amazing days these must have been for the close-knit band of followers. The church was just beginning…infants in Christ’s love, in Christ’s message. There were these 50 days since Passover, since the Resurrection, final words, final meals together, words of guidance, words of encouragement. Words of promise! The power surge from heaven comes…the tongues of fire are visible marks of the Spirit’s coming. No surge protector! They are now power charged, as if an extension cord now connects them to the Spirit of Truth. They in turn are empowered to go and tell. The first evangelists are given their mission statement…go and tell. Here we have the first Evangelism Committee, and they’re not supposed to stay secluded in the upper room. They have walking papers and are empowered to be about ministry. They are to proclaim the mystery of Easter and gather the community into the Triune God. They are not asked if they’d like to change and grow – they are changed. The church will grow!
Today we began worship with music and the Confession and Forgiveness, linking our baptism to the power source we have as we have been made children of God. If I were to bring out a power cord, plug it in to a power source and then headed for the baptismal font, I would hope you’d be a bit nervous about that, as I would be getting quite a jolt from the electricity connecting with the water. That power connection would threaten to destroy me. But I tell you that as you and I stand at the baptismal font, remembering that we are wet people, baptized and wet with Christ’s promise to send the Spirit of Truth into us, we are empowered by the Power Source, Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God; it is a power surge that is life-giving, life-sustaining, life-changing, transforming us. We empowered to serve. We have a mission statement to tell the mighty deeds of God handed down through the generations.
Our own mission is to understand that we are a worshipping, learning, witnessing, and serving community of forgiven followers of Jesus Christ. We have a powerful message to share where we strive to foster spiritual growth in ourselves and others through all our actions and decisions. We welcome and value the talents of all who are brought to us by God’s will. Have you, who are empowered through your baptism, told the mission statement given by God that you are chosen, loved, forgiveness, reconciled, and that there is a feast here for you? Have you told others that we celebrate who we have been? Have you told others that we are excited about who we are today and about the possibilities for who we will be in the future? Have you told others that there is a place here for everyone? We likely have “dropped the ball” on telling others that we really do have something special that we are about – that we want them to come WITH us, sit WITH us, and work WITH us as we carry out the mission we’ve been given. We often bemoan the fact that we are declining, but it also is a fact that we have declined in inviting others to come and be with us, partner with us for the “common good” of our community as well as our church. We need to sense the breath of God blowing on us!
Today we are welcomed to the banquet feast. We share the body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; we are recharged with spiritual food that fills us with Jesus so that we can go out and share this good news. I urge you to take seriously that God is calling you and listening for your response –send me, Lord! Send me to feed children, clothe and help the needy, be a witness in all that I say and do. Make the message clear so that all who hear can understand it, can get it. No need for a power surge protector. God is with you! God IS your POWER SOURCE! Thanks be to God!