Pentecost Sunday

Hi Everyone,
Even though we are participating in unprogrammed worship with Multnomah Meeting this week and therefore I won’t be preaching on the current text, it still seems fitting to be reflecting on these texts together as a community. The biblical text can give us a grounding, a starting point and one way to prepare our hearts for communion with Christ (in silent worship). So here goes.

This coming Sunday is the day the Christian church celebrates Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the believers fifty days after Jesus had ascended into heaven. This is the true birth of the church, it is the moment when God gives forth new life through the Spirit and invites all of creation to participate in that new moment, that new creation and new life we have talked about over the course of Lent.

Here’s the text from Acts 2:

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they 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.

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?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning.

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.
And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ (Acts 2:1–21 NRSV)

1. What surprises you about this text?

2. What does this text have to say to us about what it means to be the church?

3. Can you think of (or find) any other narratives within Scripture that reference (holy) fire? Are there any connections that can be made between this text and the rest of the biblical narrative? What light does it shed on this story?


Wess Daniels