Summary: We are faced with new realities and possibilitites which make us ask the question, "What do you do in times like these". The world got the only true answer in the promise fulfilled by a cross.
September 8, 2002
Profound events drive us to sometimes larger-than-life actions. Almost a year ago my wife’s cousin, John was at his downtown New York office on a bright September Tuesday morning.
There was a buzz of excitement as someone announced that one of “the towers” had smoke coming from it. John turned to look out the window to the Trade Center towers just down the street. In that one profound moment a jet airliner thundered just above the office building.
Amid the deafening noise, John, horrified, saw what couldn’t be true; the plane rammed right into the second tower, in what we have all seemingly relived a thousand times – a nightmare in the middle of morning. More than three thousand innocent people lost their lives. For John, life has not been the same.
Today, nearly a year later, we are faced with related possibilities and realities.
We have a new emphasis on “Homeland Security”, complete with airport strip searches.
We wobble precariously on the brink of war with Iraq.
Osama bin Laden is (or isn’t) alive and planning more attacks.
Kabul, Afghanistan suffered massive car-bomb explosions and attempted presidential assassinations just this week.
In the midst of it all, Ariel Sharron appeared on CNN last Thursday proclaiming there is finally a genuine prospect of peace with the Palestinians.
WHAT DO YOU DO IN TIMES LIKE THESE?
There was another profound event that immediately affected a similarly-sized group of about three thousand. However, instead of innocent victims dying, this was a group of guilty folks given a second chance…life was restored.
It began in a second story banquet hall. About 120 followers of their executed leader were waiting. They probably knew very little about what they were waiting for; they’d been told to wait, and so they waited.
Suddenly the question about what they were awaiting was no longer a problem. These followers of Jesus, Like Elizabeth’s cousin on 9-11, (also in an upper room) heard a mighty rushing wind. In a few moments the experience changed their lives forever. The Bible says the Spirit of God appeared like “tongues of fire” setting on them. The phenomenon known as “tongues” was an event that spread into the outer courtyards of the temple, where thousands were gathered. They began to speak to anyone who would listen. The opportunity to spread the good news of the resurrection of Jesus had arrived. This is that for which they had waited.
What followed confused the listeners. It seemed this was a multi-cultural crowd; there were many languages represented in the gathered audience. Yet, as these disciples of Jesus spoke in one language, all understood in his own tongue. It was as much a phenomenon of “ears” as tongues! Of course there were the cynics – some thought it was simply a matter of early morning hangover…that the disciples were still drunk.
Peter was the head disciple at that moment. He stood up and preached the first Christian sermon. It only lasted two minutes:
14But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: 15For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. 16But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of 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: 18And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: 20The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: 21And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
22Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 23Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 24Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. 25For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: 26Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: 27Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell,