And Happy Birthday to the Christian Church! As I publish this in 2021, it is the eve of Pentecost. The date of Pentecost moves each year because it is dependent upon it’s proximity to the Passover celebration and/or Easter, which also move around the calendar. Pentecost was a Jewish tradition long before the events of our text today. But for the Christian church, Pentecost marks the start of a movement.
The Holy Spirit came in a mighty way. Jesus had promised his followers the Holy Spirit would come. Several weeks had passed since he made that promise before Jesus ascended into the sky. I’m sure the disciples were beginning to wonder when it was going to happen. They may have even been questioning whether they were going to recognize when it happened.
There would be no question. The Holy Spirit wasn’t going to slip in quietly. It started with “a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting.” Imagine that you were there that day. Close your eyes and let your mind transport you across the centuries.
Can’t you just visualize it? What “looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them.” It must have been quite something looking around and seeing such a sight. This is why we see the Holy Spirit depicted by fire or flame. When I think of the Holy Spirit living inside me, I imagine a pilot light, always burning.
This spectacle was not meant only for Jesus’ followers. There were many people who had gathered in Jerusalem for the festival. They had heard the commotion and were curious. What was happening? And then they heard voices speaking in their own language telling of the great things God had done. “They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed.” This was certainly a new phenomenon.
There will be kill joys in every crowd. We see that here, too. “They’re just drunk, that’s all!” I can just imagine Peter getting riled by that comment. They were certainly not drunk! Rather, they were ecstatic that what (or who) they had been waiting for had finally arrived. Jesus had said, “wait,” and the wait was now over. Exuberantly, Peter began to speak.
The words of the prophet Joel came rushing out of Peter’s mouth. What had been written was now coming true. What an honor to be a witness to this fulfilled prophecy. What thoughts are going through your mind as you imagine being there that day? The beauty of Scripture is that this moment was captured for all time so we can experience it as if we were there.
As followers of Jesus, we, too, have access to the Holy Spirit’s power. The Lord had said through Joel, “I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.” Take these words to heart. “But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” I think it’s pretty clear. “All people” and “everyone” does include us!
How do we fan the flame all these years later? If that pilot light is burning inside us, what does it take to get it to burn brightly? For me, I want to devour God’s word so that I can feel closer to him. He speaks to each of us through the words of Scripture. It’s up to us whether we are listening. In prayer, we can ask to be filled by the Spirit so we can feel the power and act!
Let’s pray …
Lord, just remembering the events of this Pentecost brings a joy to my Spirit. I know that you are living inside me. Open up my eyes and my ears to see and hear you in a fresh way today. May I close out all distractions so that you alone are my focus. Help me to discern what your mission is for me and be ready to move. In Jesus’ name. Amen.