June 5, 2011: The Power to Change Your Life

Posted on : Jun 3rd, 2011 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

The most boring class I ever took in Seminary was a class entirely focused on “the Holy Spirit.”  For an entire semester I suffered through an upper graduate level course that was absolutely lifeless and boring.  I kept thinking to myself, “How in the world can a class on the Holy Spirit be so lifeless and boring?”  I later figured out the answer to that question.  It was an intellectual exposé – a formal and systematic statement of facts about something.  The only problem is, that isn’t what the Holy Spirit is about in Christian Spirituality!

The Holy Spirit is about life and energy and passion.  It’s about this wild and glorious power that God blesses us with, a power that sets us totally free to be fully who we are – God’s beloved.

According to the story in Acts 2, God gave the gift of the Holy Spirit to empower us.  Sounds from heaven, a rush of a might ruach (wind, spirit, breath) permeated the house in which the apostles gathered and appeared to them as burning fire.  A power – the unseen power of God – moved among them and totally changed their lives.  The Holy Spirit is “the unseenness of God” working in our lives.

The Holy Spirit is the wind, breath, spirit of God that opens us to discover our true selves, and the spiritual gifts God has blessed us with as we live and “be” in the world.  The Prophet Joel is quoted in the Pentecost Story as it’s told in the Acts of the Apostles.  Joel was a prophet who lived before Jesus, who prophesied that a new day was coming when the Spirit of God was going to open everybody to a new future.  This new future was based on our giftedness and our goodness.  This new future is about diversity, not conformity.  It’s about celebrating who we are as opposed to condemning those who are different from us.  It’s about making the circle wider, not smaller.

It’s about discovering what excites us, what we’re passionate about and letting our passion “light up the world.”

A week ago Wednesday one of the great Pentecost teachers spoke about this power that changes our lives.  That of course was Oprah Winfrey as she concluded her 25 years as host of the Oprah Winfrey show.  Oprah Winfrey is credited with being the most influential woman in the world.  And yet, her life began (literally) with a one-time, unplanned, unexpected pregnancy.  She was born into a poor family as a young Black woman in the south.  She had everything going against her and yet she found the power of God and the gifts of God to change her life.  In following her calling, her giftedness, she also transformed millions and millions of viewers.  In her final show she spoke about the meaning of Pentecost.  She said:

“A Calling — It lights you up and it lets you know that

you are exactly where you are supposed to be,

doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing.

“You have to make a living…

but you also have to know what sparks the light in you

so you can illuminate the world.”

“Start embracing the life that is calling you and

use your life to serve the world.”

This Sunday as we celebrate Pentecost may we find the power that God gives us to change our lives.



This Sunday’s Scripture

Acts 2:1-18

Luke describes the day of Pentecost, when worshipers were filled with the Holy Spirit.

1When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.  3And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

5Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

14But 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. 15Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

17 ‘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.

18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women,

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