the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.”
one of the great festivals of the Old Testament. It has been celebrated in
Jewish communities since the time of Moses. God commanded this celebration (c.f.
Leviticus 23:15ff) as the Feast
Weeks (7 weeks)
after Passover. It is also known as “First
Fruits” because it accompanied the command
to worship with offerings of the first fruits from the wheat harvest. Over the
centuries, as Jews scattered around the world, Pentecost was one of the three
great Pilgrim feasts to call them all home to Jerusalem.
The Book of Acts
tells us that it was at the Pentecost festival following Jesus’ death and
resurrection that the Holy Spirit birthed and empowered the Christian Church.
Pentecost had gathered Jews from all over the world to one place as it did for
centuries, but this group of pilgrims would return to their countries as men and
women transformed by the living Christ.
We tend to focus on the handful of Apostles named
in our Bibles, but the world would
thousands of people unnamed who went home transformed to
disciples of Jesus.
The Holy Spirit’s work of gathering people around Jesus and sending them out to
connect others with Jesus is ongoing today. One in million may be noted in the
history books, but the Spirit isn’t limiting his work to their stories. He’s
gone wild in these last days. All the barriers came down. “In the last days,
God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all people… your sons and daughters…
young… old…. I will show wonders’” (Joel 2:28ff quoted by Peter in Acts 2).
We may never make a footnote in a history book,
but each of us has a uniquely divine chapter written out by the Holy Spirit for
us. He writes that story by calling us together in communities like St. John’s.
Through scripture, sacraments and sacred community the Spirit gathers us
together to meet
church. The Small Catechism taught his divine work saying, “He
calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth,
and keeps it with Jesus Christ.” Pentecost, this 50th day of Easter in the
modern era, is a perpetual celebration of the last days. We live in days where
God is showing wonders in the heavens and signs on the earth through his Spirit
poured out on us. There are no special orders of priests or clergy, no
prerequisites or entrance exams. We are his story. We are the signs and wonders
that cry to the world, “Meet
first unsuspecting band of disciples sent out into the world was
have had too much wine,” their mockers cried as they planted the seeds of
self doubt (Acts 1:13). But Peter stood up with the word of God to defend them
and empower them. His defense should ring out to us every time we are tempted to
believe (or someone plants that seed of doubt) that each and every one of us is
anything less than God’s plan to connect people to Jesus and the community of
Pentecost is also the celebration of harvest and
the giving of that first
offering. Jesus told
us of another kind of harvest far more important to God. Speaking of people whom
God was drawing to meet Jesus and his church, our Savior says, “The harvest
is plentiful but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:37). We are that first
fruit offering of his harvest who have now become his workers. Living out the
Pentecost festival changes beggars into givers and entitlement into enlistment.
Harvested into the granary of God’s house, we move from the question, “what
can God do for me?” to “what is the Spirit’s calling for me?” There
is nothing more glorious to witness than working in God’s field, harvesting his
vision that, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
(Old Testament: Joel 2:32 and New: Acts 2:21). It’s what we’re
called to do as this church and school where Pentecost is still happening today.
(c)2011 St. John's Lutheran Church and School |
505 S Park RD | La Grange IL 60525
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