Summary: Pentecost is also the day when we remember the countless ways in which the Holy Spirit shapes the Church as an institution and ourselves as individuals.
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday dear Church
Happy Birthday to you!
Today, we are celebrating the birthday of the church. On the day of Pentecost over 2,000 years ago, the Holy Spirit came to the disciples, and through the Holy Spirit the church was born. It is a time when the church traditionally concentrates on the gift of the Holy Spirit and the ways in which it strengthens the church. It is a time to consider how the Spirit has created and sustained faith in our lives. It is a time to explore how the Spirit empowers our witness so that others might have faith.
The power of the Holy Spirit ignited the disciples. Peter was ignited and gave one of the most powerful sermons in history. It included both the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy and a strong rebuke/accusation. The effect was remarkable. The message pierced the hearts of the people, and as a result more than 3,000 people were baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit. When these new converts returned home, they spread the message, and thus the church was born.
This would not have been possible without the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is not an impersonal force. It is a person. It possesses the mind of God, emotions and will---because it is God. It performs the actions of God. It has the attributes of God.
As a result of the Holy Spirit, the church opened its hearts to fellowship. It opened its hands to care for each and every member. Members opened their homes to each other, especially for worship. They devoted themselves to prayer. As a result of all of this, the church grew and found favour with other people-both inside and outside the church.
The term “Spirit” describes wind or breath. The Pentecost wind is no wind of destruction. It blows where it will and fires up people with faith and spiritual power. The church did not come alive until after God breathed the Holy Spirit. The wind was an outward sign of what was happening within the disciples. The Holy Spirit came like a rushing wind on the first Pentecost, and it still comes like a rushing wind today. We can’t control the wind, and we can’t control the Holy Spirit no matter how hard we try. We try to control what it tells us to do or who it wants us to allow into our churches. Many Christians want just enough religion to be comfortable, to be respected, to feel good about themselves, but not so much that it shakes up their routines and changes their way of living. Many Christians want the benefits of the Holy Spirit without having to experience much of the Spirit.
Differences can enrich and enliven our worship experiences. Differences force us to reach across what divides us. Differences and diversity force us to rely on the Holy Spirit in order to remain faithful to the Gospel of Jesus in more creative and dynamic mission efforts. We are called on to share the Good News with others and welcome them to find love of each other and the love of God. If we do not share the Good News, it is wasted. The Holy Spirit calls on us to share our gifts and love with those who are different from us.
God gave the disciples supernatural ability to speak the languages of all those who had gathered in Jerusalem from around the known world at that time. The Spirit’s presence signified their baptism into the spiritual body of the church. This gift was the result of being filled with the Holy Spirit so the disciples could preach the Gospel to all the people.
God does the same thing today. He speaks through both chosen people and simple people like you and me. This message of being somebody again through God alone is communicated. Why? So that it might get through to everyone. For example, I post my sermons on my blog, and I also post links to these sermons in several Facebook groups. As of the date I prepared this message, my sermons have been viewed over 100,000 times by people around the world. As people who have received God’s grace we get to be a bridge of that good news to people we know and love.
Part of the Jewish liturgy involved reciting one of the great acts of God in their history. When the Holy Spirit came they all worshipped and rehearsed his wonderful works. Bystanders understood them because of the Jewish liturgy. When the Holy Spirit comes to fill a Christian, he/she speaks and acts in ways that weren’t possible before. Christians live supernaturally because the Spirit of God within them controls them.
For example, just a few days before Pentecost, Peter was too scared to admit he knew Jesus. Now, filled with the Holy Spirit, God changed him. In Acts 2:16-21, Peter quoted Joel 2:28-33, which was Joel’s prophecy of the Holy Spirit and the beginning of the last days. On that first Pentecost, the Spirit came to people in a new, more powerful way that signalled the beginning of the new covenant age, which runs from the time of Christ’s death until he returns at some time in the future. These are the last days in that the coming of the Messiah, which was foretold in the Old Testament, have now occurred. His saving death and resurrection have been accomplished, and now the Holy Spirit has to build the church before Christ returns.