The Gathering of the Spirit
- Acts 2:1-21
- or Numbers 11:24-30
- 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13
- or Acts 2:1-21
- John 20:19-23
- or John 7:37-39
- Psalm 104:25-35, 37
Today we celebrate the Day of Pentecost. The importance of Pentecost cannot be overstated. We observe Pentecost as the birth of the Church. It is certainly that. But it also has to do with the birth and rebirth of all humankind.
Let us go back to the beginning. Reading from John’s Gospel:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. (John 1:1-4)
Our lives began with the Word of God. God spoke us into being. Jesus Christ was and is the incarnation of this Word:
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. ((John 1:10-13
We were created in his very image. We were made like him, but many did not recognize him or accept him as one of us. But those who did, received his breath and power to become more like him. Pentecost is about receiving God’s breath and power. The psalmist wrote:
You hide your face, and they are terrified;
you take away their breath,
and they die and return to their dust.
You send forth your Spirit, and they are created;
and so you renew the face of the earth. (Psalm 104:30-31)
Pentecost is about rebirth. This rebirth comes only by the power of the Holy Spirit. We need that rebirth to restore our fellowship with God. Jesus, the agent of creation, became the agent of recreation. His sacrifice has purified us for rebirth.
This Church could only be formed by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit:
When the day of Pentecost had come, the disciples were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. (Acts 2:1-4)
God calls us to gather in his name. He calls us to anticipate his presence and power. He refines us and prepares us as we offer him our prayers and praise. Then he pours out his power and establishes a taste of his Kingdom on the earth:
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs– in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” (Acts 2:5-12)
The witness of the Church began at Pentecost. A powerful community was being built. It attracted people from all corners of the earth. Are we still building upon the outpouring of God’s power? What is our witness today? Do we just celebrate the birth of the Church on the Day of Pentecost? Or do we seek rebirth through the power of the Holy Spirit.
On the Day of Pentecost, Peter preached:
No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
‘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.
Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit,
and they shall prophesy.’ (Acts 2:16-18)
God is still pouring out his Spirit. Peter makes it clear that Pentecost includes us:
Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” (Acts 2:38-39)