According to the liturgical calendar of the church, the Easter season has ended. Last week we celebrated as Jesus Christ was ascended into heaven, where he sits on the right hand of the Father. But the story continues. This Sunday we celebrate the day of Pentecost. Some like to call it the “birthday of the church” since it is traditionally the day that the apostles publicly began their ministry, preaching the Good News and gathering new believers together.
But the Pentecost story from Acts chapter 2 is far more than the beginning of a church movement. It is a story filled with wonder, amazement and power. And it is far more than a metaphoric look at the beginning of the new church.
Acts explains the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. The Spirit gave Peter the courage to stand up and preach – and the words to say. The Spirit gave all the people the ability to hear Peter’s words. The Spirit moves people from one place to another, calling them to preach the gospel all over the known world. Peter is sent to a group of gentiles, Philip is sent to an Ethiopian eunuch, Paul encounters Christ and goes all over the place planting churches at the Spirit’s call. And then there are the healings, plenty of healings. Incredible stories of people healed from physical illnesses throughout Acts.
But we live in 2013 and it is hard to believe some of this stuff. Does God still heal today? Do miracles still happen? Does God actually give us directions like He gave to Peter and Paul (and the rest)? Or do we just have these words to guide us?
Well I have seen miracles (have you seen my daughter? We were never supposed to be able to have children). I have seen healings. I have been part of incredibly powerful moments of prayer. I have felt His presence in commanding ways. And He has led me. Sometimes it was nothing more than to make a phone call or send a card, other times to show up at the right place and right time. And sometimes it is to just lift up a person in prayer – finding out later on that they really needed it.
As we celebrate Pentecost together, claim the power. It doesn’t mean you have to go around praying in tongues (unless, of course, the Spirit gifts you that way). It doesn’t mean you have to shout amen at my sermons (unless, of course, you are moved to do so). It just means you are opening yourselves to God and the works He has prepared in advance for you to do.
In the words of Dick Halverson, former chaplain of the United States Congress: You go nowhere by accident. Wherever you go, God is sending you. Wherever you are, God has put you there. He has a purpose putting you there. Christ who indwells you has something He wants to do through you wherever you are. Believe this and go in His grace, love and power.