Pentecost, the birthday of the Christian Church!
FARMERSVILLE (May 16, 2018) – Pentecost, originally, was an Israelite harvest festival. It was 50 days after the Jewish Passover. In Christendom, Pentecost is celebrated 50 days after, and including, Easter Sunday. The traditional Bible reading for that day is from Acts two. Here the Holy Spirit descends upon the disciples and spreads out onto the streets of Jerusalem where a large number of Jews hear the disciples speaking in languages that as Galilean Jews they would not be familiar with. Surprised, they said, “we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”
While the miracle of speaking in unfamiliar languages was attention getting, it was Peter’s sermon that was truly important. Peter’s sermon was perhaps the most powerful sermon ever preached. He explained how it was all about Jesus. Jesus was the fulfillment of all prophesy, He was the Messiah, and “God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it.”
When the crowd heard Peter’s message, they begged Peter to show them a way they could be forgiven of their sins. Peter said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off…” and over three thousand men, women and children were baptized and saved that day.
So why is Pentecost called the birthday of the Christian Church? Not because the church didn’t exist before Pentecost. It did! Pentecost is the birthday of the Christian church because on that day this small band of believers (about 120) found the Spirit-given courage to do exactly what Jesus had told them to do. Jesus said, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). And so it happened, and so it continues to happen. In each and every baptism the church administers, the gift of the Holy Spirit is given, and men, and women, boys, and girls “show forth the praises of him who called (us) out of darkness into his marvelous light (I Peter 2:9). Wow!
Here’s a traditional prayer for Pentecost Sunday. “O God, You taught the hearts of Your faithful people, by sending to them the light of Your Holy Spirit: Grant us by that same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in His holy comfort, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who with You and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one true God, now and forever. Amen.”
Have a blessed birthday party this Sunday at church!
Comments or questions are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org. Rev. Micheal M. Strong is pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church Farmersville.