May 2021

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

During the first half of May we are still in Eastertide. That is, we are still in the full seven weeks of the Easter Season, which celebrate the resurrection of our Savior Jesus. Christ’s victory over sin and death by means of his own death and resurrection is the best news ever and worth celebrating for a full 49 days: a week of weeks. On May 9th we also celebrate Mother’s Day. Truth is, most of us probably first learned what love is from our mothers. So on Mother’s Day we honor and celebrate our Moms. God bless you Mothers as you reflect God’s wonderful love to your children!

Ascension Day falls on the 40th day of the Easter Season. Ascension Day always lands on a Thursday, this year May 13th, so it doesn’t get a lot of Sunday morning publicity. But it is at least worth reviewing Acts chapter one and giving thanks to God.

Acts 1:3 and following: “After his(Jesus’) suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during 40 days and speaking about the kingdom of God….It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses… When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” The altar painting in our chapel room depicts the Ascension of Jesus.

After proving himself alive to his followers for 40 days, the resurrected Jesus, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, returns to his rightful place beside God the Father Almighty: the place from which he came before time began. But the risen Jesus does not abandon his followers. He sends them the Holy Spirit and promises to be with them always through the Holy Spirit.

Fifty days after Easter, the church celebrates Pentecost (this year May 23): the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon all of Jesus’ followers. The gift of the Holy Spirit empowers them to be Jesus’ witnesses “In Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”(Acts 1:8). Originally, Pentecost was a Jewish thanksgiving-type harvest festival celebrated 7 weeks after Passover. It also celebrated the giving of the 10 Commandments. But in the New Testament, Pentecost is given whole new meaning as God’s Holy Spirit is poured out on the followers of Jesus. “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.” Acts 2:2-4.

Though they were all Galileans, suddenly the disciples of Jesus could tell of God’s mighty acts in the many, different, known languages of the Mediterranean world. It’s true that some skeptics dismissed the miracle simply as drunkenness. But Peter speaks truth in his Pentecost sermon when he interprets the miracle as the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel. “In the last days it will be, God declares, that 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….Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Acts 2:17&21.

As Christians today, we are all Easter people and we are all Pentecost people. We are all given forgiveness, life and salvation through the death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus. And we are all given the Holy Spirit to help us share the saving good news of Jesus with other people. The Holy Spirit empowers all Christians to share the love of Jesus with others through word and through compassionate care for our neighbors in need.

Serving God and neighbor with you,

Pastor Dennis