Pentecost celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit to the followers
of Jesus some fifty days after his death on the cross.
(The word Pentecost means “fifty” in Greek and is borrowed from
a Jewish holiday that occurs seven weeks after Passover.) The
disciples have gathered in “one place”; at Peter’s direction they
await the baptism by the Spirit.
The author of Acts portrays this event in dramatic fashion,
beginning with a sudden gust of wind accompanied by fiery
tongues that settle on each participant. The great noise attracts
people in the nearby community who are astonished to hear the
acts of God recited in their own native languages.
Peter then delivers his first sermon to his fellow disciples.
He has overcome his painful denial of Jesus and emerges in Acts
as the clear leader of the disciples. He speaks of the fulfillment of
what Jesus has commanded them to do. First, they are to remain
in Jerusalem until they have received the Spirit. Then they will
be his witnesses, carrying out Jesus’ mission and ministry.
It is not hard to imagine how difficult the past seven weeks
had been for the disciples and other followers of Jesus. Their
world had come to an end. What were they to do? What were
they to say? Where were they to go? They need direction. They
need affirmation. With the coming of the Holy Spirit, their
ending becomes a new beginning as the Spirit brings life and
power. The words of Joel that Peter quotes in verses 17-21 move
from being words of destruction and death to words of new life
on the lips of Peter. The magic of Pentecost: the coming of the
Holy Spirit, which brings life. These followers now become
empowered believers who will become the church.
God of us all, we greet this day with joy and thanksgiving as your empowered people. Amen.
The foundation of the Pentecost festival is that series of events recorded in Acts 2, a decisive proclamation that links new life in Christ to the activity of the Spirit of God. At the heart of the church’s new life is its experience of the crucified, risen Lord, a reality also recalled in the John 7 reading. Psalm 104 celebrates the power of God in endowing the heavens and the earth with life, an endowment that is linked to the work of God’s Spirit. First Corinthians points the reader to the reality that the gift of life, having once been made, remains with the Spirit-led person in the form of a heart reoriented to new and marvelous deeds of witness.
• Read Psalm 104:24-34, 35b. God’s gift of Spirit animates the life and well-being of creation. Today, breathe in God’s Spirit; breathe out God’s praise.
• Read Acts 2:1-21. The church is the Holy Spirit’s creation to continue Jesus’ mission. What part are you playing in the ongoing drama of ministry and mission to the world?
• Read 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13. The writer asserts that “every day, people of diverse gifts . . . model by their example how the Christian life is to be lived.” How do you express your valuing of those who differ in worship style, theology, or doctrine?
• Read John 20:19-23. The writer says that Jesus’ call to his followers “is no easy assignment; it is not without peril.” How has being a Jesus-follower been difficult for you?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.