6/2/19 – God goes Viral

Posted on : May 30th, 2019 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

I know it’s hard to believe, but there was life before Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  I also hope there will be life after them, but at the moment, that is not a certainty.  Good old social media is becoming the international platform for trash talk.  The more outrageous the post, the more it is “liked,” re-tweeted and shared.

Recently I read a story about the kinds of data the large media platforms gather about us.  The way that most of the social media platforms make their money is by gathering data about us and selling it to advertisers and companies.  Most people have no idea this data-gathering is happening when they download an app.  But it is.  One of the things I learned from this article was the search, sales and social media platforms not only gather info on what we like, but what we don’t like. With that information, our news feeds are fed both stories that we like and stories that infuriate us.  Yes, we look at both stories about things we like and things or people we don’t like.  The goal is to keep us on a site as long as possible.

In the pre-Twitter world of Jesus, word traveled fast using an old-fashioned method of communication: storytelling.   The stories that went viral were not “fake news” stories but stories about people whose lives were changed or transformed.  Just think of how many stories we have today about Jesus.  Most of them are stories about how he changed people’s lives.  One of the things I find remarkable is that these stories survived 2,000 years!  Remember, all these stories that were told were originally passed on orally.  These stories come to us from a time when people didn’t write things down.  They didn’t even have paper or pens, let alone Twitter or Facebook.  They were part of what Biblical Scholars call “the oral tradition.”  So, obviously these stories that we have in the Bible touched or transformed enough people’s lives that they continued to tell them and pass them on from generation to generation.

One of the stories that obviously had a tremendous impact was the story of the Day of Pentecost.  Pentecost is what I like to call “the answer to the question, ‘Is it over?’”  The question the followers of Jesus faced was, “Is it over?”  Was the Jesus movement going to end with the death of Jesus?  In the weeks following the resurrection, they found the answer.  The spirit of the living Christ kept coming to them and on the day of Pentecost, when people from many countries and nationalities had gathered for a religious festival, they felt the spirit descend upon them and move within them.

God went viral and something short of a miracle occurred.  Everyone heard and understood each other and the stories of how God was still at work in their lives and world, each in their own language and tradition.  Dear God, imagine today if all of us could understand each other!  Not judge each other.  Not condemn each other.  Not put down each other.  But understand each other!  No wonder they knew the Holy Spirit was with them and within them.

Obviously, we need the Holy Spirit to descend upon us today.  We need to heal the many divisions happening among us.  Divisions based on race, class, gender, gender identity, age, wealth, country of birth, immigration status, and the list goes on and on.  And so, we come back each year to the celebration of Pentecost where we seek the living presence of Christ as revealed through Holy Spirit, to come and change our lives and our reality.

May the Holy Spirit Bless us and Empower us this Sunday and always, 

Dan

Luke 24: 44-53

Jesus blesses the disciples and is parted from them.

And Jesus said to them (the disciples), “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in Christ’s name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.  And I am sending the promise of our God upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Then Jesus led them out as far as Bethany, and with uplifted hands blessed them.  While blessing them, Jesus parted from them, and was carried up into heaven.  And they returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.

Acts 2:1-18

Luke (the presumed writer of the book of Acts) describes the day of Pentecost, when worshipers were filled with the Holy Spirit.

   When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.  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.  And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

    Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem.  And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.  Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?  And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”  But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

    But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “People of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning.  No, this is what was spoken through the prophet 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.

  Even upon my slaves, both men and women,

in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy!

 

 

 

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