Summary: A sermon for Pentecost Sunday
Genesis 11: 1-8
The whole earth was of one language and of one speech.
2 It happened, as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they lived there.
3 They said one to another, "Come, let’s make brick, and burn them thoroughly." They had brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar.
4 They said, "Come, let’s build us a city, and a tower, whose top reaches to the sky, and let’s make us a name; lest we be scattered abroad on the surface of the whole earth."
5 Yahweh came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men built.
6 Yahweh said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is what they begin to do. Now nothing will be withheld from them, which they intend to do.
7 Come, let’s go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech."
8 So Yahweh scattered them abroad from there on the surface of all the earth. They stopped building the city.
9 Therefore the name of it was called Babel, because Yahweh confused the language of all the earth, there. From there, Yahweh scattered them abroad on the surface of all the earth.
John 14: 16-17, 25-27
16 I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, that he may be with you forever,
17 -- the Spirit of truth, whom the world can’t receive; for it doesn’t see him, neither knows him. You know him, for he lives with you, and will be in you.
25 I have said these things to you, while still living with you.
26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your memory all that I said to you.
27 Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, give I to you. Don’t let your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful.
On July 4, 1776, the members of the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia signed the Declaration of Independence. With this action, the American Revolution was launched and a new nation was born. It is ironic that on that very day George III, King of England, made this entry in his diary: "Nothing of any importance happened today."
On the day of Pentecost, in the year A.D. 30, 120 followers of a man named Jesus were gathered together in Jerusalem. Suddenly the Spirit of God filled each one of them and marked them with tongues of fire. On that day the Church was born. But no historian of the time saw anything significant in that event.
Those 120 disciples were just a handful of rather ordinary men and women, a few fishermen, a couple of housewives, a former tax collector, a few farmers and some servant girls. Yet through these ordinary people God built a Church which has lasted now for over 2,0000 years. In less than 300 years, that small, insignificant Jewish sect became the official religion of the entire Roman Empire and today the Church of Jesus Christ circles the globe and numbers some one billion members.
How did they do it? What happened to those 120 follower in the year 30 A.D. on the day we call Pentecost? Those 120 followers came in contact with the Christian’s unknown God. Yes, that is right, those 120 followers came in contact with the Christian’s unknown God. They came in contact with God’s Spirit, or the Holy Spirit. For many Christians the events of Pentecost, the events of God’s spirit coming to this earth is like what King George said on the day the Declaration of Independence was signed, "nothing of any importance happened today."
Today is Pentecost, one of the 4 major festivals of the church year. Today we celebrate the coming of God’s spirit, the Holy Spirit into the lives of men and woman, today we celebrate the birthday of the church. But, if you didn’t come to church today, if you maybe hadn’t read your daily devotional booklet, or perhaps if you hadn’t looked at the church calendar, you would have not known this was a major festival of the church year. Today is just as important as Christmas, just as important as Easter, just as important as the festival of the Ascension, but for some unknown reason, this festival, this holiday in the church year goes by almost unnoticed. Why is that?
Maybe because we have a difficult time getting a handle on the Spirit of God. Maybe , we don’t understand what exactly happened on this day. And maybe, talk about the Spirit is not so sweet as talk about a baby born in a manager, angels singing in the heavens, gifts being passed about and shepherds tending their sheep on quiet hillsides.