May 15, 2016: Blown out of our Safe-Houses

Posted on : May 12th, 2016 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Sometimes in our spiritual journey we have these little “ah-ha” moments in which the Holy Spirit connects us with the meaning of a biblical story in a fresh and new way. A year ago I had one such moment about the meaning of Pentecost.

Pentecost is one of the three major religious celebrations of the Christian Church. Obviously, in terms of observance, it is the least known of the three. (That’s probably because no one has yet commercialized Pentecost.) The most celebrated are Easter and Christmas.

Pentecost is a mystical holiday / holy day. Even its name doesn’t describe it. Our English word Pentecost is from the Greek word meaning “Fifty days.” “Penta” means five as in “Pentagon” the five sided building which houses the five branches of the US military. Pente-cost means “fifty days.” So what is so special about 50 days?

In our Christian tradition, the Resurrection is celebrated for 50 days. On the fiftieth day, the Holy Spirit is poured out on the believers, and a whole new energy is given to the followers of Jesus. This energy is quite important, because after the death of Jesus, the followers of Jesus were quite demoralized and un-energized. Most of the stories we hear about these followers of Jesus tell us they were terrified that they might be the next to be crucified, and in fear, often meet behind closed or locked doors. As the Pentecost story is told in the second chapter of Acts, that’s pretty much the scene. The story begins telling us they were all gathered in their safe-house and suddenly the Holy Spirit descended upon them blowing them out of their safe-house and into the world.

That image is from our friend, Rev. Sue Fisher. I never thought of Pentecost as being “blown out of our safe-house and into the world.” That is a wonderful, contemporary rendering of the meaning of Pentecost for us today.

Today, most of us think of Christianity as being within or inside the church. That’s where we think Christians belong. In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth. Christianity has never been about “inside the church.” It has always been about out in the world. And so, this Sunday we’re going to look at Sue Fisher’s fresh, new image of Pentecost as being “Blown out of our safe-houses and into the world.”

This Pentecost, may we be blessed with God’s power and love AND be blown out of our safe-houses and into the world. Amen!

God Bless you,

Dan

~ This Sunday’s Scriptures ~

 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 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!

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