June 2017

Post date: Jun 01, 2017 7:28:13 PM

Fire is often a sign of God’s presence in the Old Testament. We think of God calling to Moses out of the burning bush and God leading his people through the wilderness with a pillar of fire. Wind is often associated with the Spirit. So Ellensburg must be a very spiritual place! “The earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.” Genesis 1:2 In Hebrew and in Greek the same word is used for spirit, wind and breath. In John 20, the risen Jesus breathes on his disciples and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

I read recently that in Eastern Orthodox art, saints are depicted with flames of fire above their heads, rather than halos, as is the tradition in Western Christian art.

That makes sense in light of the Pentecost miracle in Acts 2. “And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” Devout Jews from all over the known world at that time were in Jerusalem for the day of Pentecost, which was an early grain harvest festival and a celebration of the gift of God’s Law. The disciples of Jesus were all Galileans, but suddenly they could tell of the mighty acts of God in other known languages and those folks could understand them. It was a miraculous gift of speaking and hearing.

But even miracles need interpretation. “But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’” Acts 2:13 That’s when Peter stands up and gives his Pentecost sermon which includes the good news, “This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.” Acts 2:32 And “God has made him both Lord and Messiah…” Acts 2:36. We have been getting pieces of Peter’s Pentecost sermon as our second readings during Sundays in the Easter season. What is the result of Pentecost and Peter’s sermon? “So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about 3000 persons were added.” Acts 2:41.

Pentecost is Jesus delivering on his promise of the Holy Spirit to his followers. At Pentecost, God is opening up the New Covenant, Jesus Christ, to people of every nation and every language. Pentecost is often thought of as the birth of the Christian Church. The church begins when the risen Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to his followers so that they can proclaim the good news of life in Jesus. The risen Jesus is still giving the Holy Spirit to us, his followers today so that we can proclaim the good news of life in Jesus. It’s not so much that we have the Holy Spirit, as the Holy Spirit has us. Ever since our baptisms the Holy Spirit has us and has been shaping our lives and calling us into God’s service.

Pentecost calls all Christians to use our gifts and talents to share the love and the good news of Jesus Christ and to serve our neighbors in need. Pentecost Sunday falls on June 4th this year. The color for the day is always red, so I invite you to wear something red if you want.

Serving God and neighbor together with you,

Pastor Dennis