Acts 2When the day Pentecost had came…
I grew up in what was known as a Pentecostal church. It sounds like a comfortable jacket and and something I am familiar with. It is also something I associate with the book of the book of Acts and all that happened in chapter 2. The danger of growing up with something so familiar is the familiarity and the contempt that comes with it. There was often an arrogance and pride associated with those who were Pentecostals and how they treated those not baptised in the Holy Spirit. There was context for those who had questions, doubts and fear and in amongst it all there was a genuine hunger to understand and seek the promise of more than just an encounter wiht Jesus. There were some who did what Jesus promised and bore witness to who he was and what he could do with a life touched by his spirit and there were others who bore witness to their hunger for power and selfish ambition, I can fully understand why Paul write to the Corinthians about Tahoe who sounded like clanging symbols and those who could speak i to infuse abut had no love.
I also believe that the familiarity with growing up in a Pentecostal environment had many benefits but also a down side and that is that what was meant to have purpose can end have being all form and no substance.
I love it when the scriptures brings new meaning to traditional ways of seeing. The Passover took on new meaning when Jesus turned to the disciples at the last supper and gave new meaning to the bread and the wine. The day of Pentecost is actually something that historically has a meaning a vastly different meaning to what we read about there. It is day that is celebrated by Jews as the 50th day after the Passover happens. This gives us a little bit of chronology. If Pentecost is 50 days after the Passover happens and Jesus was betrayed on the night of the Passover and spent 40 days with them before being taken to heaven it doesn’t take much maths to realise Jesus didn’t leave the disciples on their own for very long. He had promised he would not leave them alone but would send them His Spirit and we see it his chapter a climatic event that segways this small group of his followers into what became known as the church. And what we can expect when we too are baptised.
This chapter is such a significant transition point for someone who believes in Jesus. You can’t ignore it as irrelevant or meaningless. This chapter carries so much weight in what the rest of the New Testament is all about. What happened to the first chapter translates to what happens in the rest of the chapter and the rest f the book. We want the ending of chapter 2 without the beginning and we want the beginning without the ending. We often read chapter 2 as amazing and dramatic but from where I sit, I can’t help but think that it is just one more layer of dramatic and significant. You just have to look back at the week that these disciples had just experienced. There is nothing normal about a week where they watch Jesus die, then rise again, experienced him making random miraculous appearances to them over forty days, then watch as he is physically taken up to heaven, they then experienced an angelic visitation and a few days later have an encounter with the presence of God where the Holy Spirit is manifested in a visual, physical and spiritual ways that revolutionises their lives. By the end of the chapter Peter who just a week before has denied he even knew Jesus because he thought he too may be killed, stands before a crowd of Jews from all corners of the region, some of whom would have put Jesus on the cross and begins to preach a sermon that leads to 3000 added to their number and each day more and more are added. This chapter is not about the manifestations and the fire, and the wind and the tongues…it is about what happens to people who are willing to wait on God until his spirit comes.
One of the verses Peter quotes in his very first sermon is from Joel where he correlates what has just happened with what Joel had prophesied . As a woman, this verse has its own measure of liberation, in the context of a patriarchal society that placed so much value on men, this verse in Joel is a promise not does not differentiate between old and young male or female. It is inclusive and framed by the love and grace of God. Luke doesn’t major on that’s happened in the room like we often do. He give the upper room the detail that helps us know what Hellene but the emphasis in his story is what happened as a result. We can argue our way through manifestations or yearn for manifestations and completely miss the point. The disciples were not seeking manifestations..they were together , in the same place seeking God and waiting on God. There were men and women together. We have no idea what they were praying for but we know they were praying and that there 120 of them. As they sought God he poured out his spirit on those in the room and they all heard the sound, they saw the fire and they each began to speak in another language….and a few paragraphs later they were more than 3000 in number.
What does this mean for me?
As a mum?
As a wife?
As a friend?
As a believer?
As a member of a church and as a leader of a church?
When Jesus promised his Holy Spirit he knew the impact of his word and what would happen to me in this seaso of my life because he was here already. He knows what our church needs right now. He was right here right now when he spoke his promise of the Holy Spirit to those belviers before he left.
Peters first audience was God fearing Jews from other parts of the world. How like God to send the nations to their doorstep. That is exactly what I feel God is doing in Bendigo. The nations are at ur door step…what can hear? What about our gatherings can they hear that they are intrigued with and curious about?
As a woman …Joel’s words and now Peter’s words ring true today. I grew up believing that I had value as a woman because of words like these ones.
Throughout history the enemy has succeeded in creating a culture of value based on race, gender and experience.When future generations read about our era in history..will they only read about Isis, technology, inventions and global economics, and the church in crisis and corrupt leadership…
I believe they will read about the church and what the Holy Spirit did through the church, like he did in Acts. We are not called to huddle in our homes and talk about how hard our life is. Our lives are meant to bear witness to the transforming power of Christ and his story written over our lives. I love this chapter and what it means for my life and ministry. It is not just a historical account given by some doctor…it is the word of God for us and our current reality.