2:1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.
2:2 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.
2:3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.
2:4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
2:5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem.
2:6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.
2:7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?
2:8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?
2:9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
2:10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,
2:11 Cretans and Arabs--in our own languages we hear them speaking about God's deeds of power."
2:12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?"
2:13 But others sneered and said, "They are filled with new wine."
2:14 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.
2:15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o'clock in the morning.
2:16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
2:17 '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.
2:18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.
2:19 And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
2:20 The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord's great and glorious day.
2:21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'
As you may already know, today is the Day of Pentecost! Pentecost is observed on the fiftieth day after Passover and is an opportunity to celebrate the birthday of the Christian Church and the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Today is a day of wind and fire. Perhaps more than any other element, fire is described as one of the markers of the human spirit. For tens of thousands of years, humans have gathered around fire for light, warmth, protection, community, and better food.
But, we do know that fire is not always daintily contained according to our own prescriptions, right?
See, we love fire atop scented candles and birthday cakes or in fire places and fire pits. We don’t love it so much when it is raging across the prairies or deserts, consuming plants, animals, humans, and homes. We have only to ask the folks in Arizona to bear witness to this truth.
And now, on the day of Pentecost, not only do we have fire, but we also have wind. A mighty rushing wind. Fire and Wind, that doesn’t sound contained…does it? That doesn’t sound controlled…does it? That doesn’t even sound safe--does it?
In CS Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” Peter, Lucy, and Susan talk about King Aslan.
“Is – is he a man?” asked Lucy.
Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion, the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh,” said Susan, “I thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie, and make no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king I tell you.”
This quote reminds us that The God of Pentecost is not safe, but He is good. (pg. 146)
The first Pentecost was not a safe day. Indeed the early disciples were locked in an upper room. Perhaps they were praying. I would imagine that they were definitely commiserating about how they might get out of Jerusalem alive.
They were afraid, anxious, worried, and fearful. Although they had encountered the risen Christ after Easter, they were still unsure about what the resurrection would mean in their day to day lives. They were bound up in a prison of their imaginations and they were desperately waiting for some sign that God would be with them in the days to come.
Suddenly…they got their sign! And let me say this, I love the suddenlys in the Bible. I love that our God has the infinite capacity for suddenly. I love that our God is the ultimate turn around specialist!
SUDDENLY…a mighty rushing wind.
SUDDENLY…fire upon the brow.
SUDDENLY…courage and peace of mind.
SUDDENLY…they were not afraid of the fact that it was not a safe day. SUDDENLY…they were willing to give up their back row seat in the theatre of life. And SUDDENLY…they no longer wanted to hide, quiet, unassuming, unnoticed, safe and sound.
Instead, once they encountered our God, who is a Consuming Fire, in the moment of Pentecost, the early disciples were willing to do risky things in order to share the good news about the Risen Jesus. They made a spectacle of themselves. They caused a stir in their community. And their bold behavior caused shock and awe…as their enthusiasm for Jesus Christ lowered their inhibitions and sense of caution and propelled them into the streets to declare with boldly, “Alleluia! He is risen! (He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!”)
I don’t know about you, but it is my prayer that the Spirit of Jesus Christ would blow on us today, for we are always aware that we need the wind and fire of God to transform our communities and to answer the question, “What does this mean?” for those who do not know our Jesus.
I pray that The Spirit of Jesus Christ, would descend upon us calling us to lives of service, love, and resurrection power.
I pray that The Spirit of Jesus Christ, would break down the walls that we have built to divide ourselves.
I pray that The Spirit of Jesus Christ, would cause us to boldly declare, “All who call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved…”
And I pray that The Spirit of Jesus Christ, would set a fire of evangelism in this place, that causes each of us to do risky and dangerous things throughout St. Cloud, in order to courageously bring the good news message of salvation to all of God’s Children.
See, if people throughout St. Cloud aren’t bewildered, amazed, astonished, and perplexed by our behavior, there is still more that we can do to proclaim, “Alleluia, he is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!”
May each of us be filled with the Spirit of Pentecost, such that we might “speak the language” of our neighbors, boldly proclaiming the risen Christ, to all who will listen. May each of us proclaim this good news without concern about the race, color, religion, class, sex, national origin, orientation, or disability status of God’s children. And may each of us ever and always experience God’s Spirit as one who heals, forgives, inspires, and unites.
Is he safe? Good heavens, no. But he is good…
May the wind of God’s consuming fire drive us out of the safe place and into the wild.
Amen, Let it be so…
In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
If you have questions about how to become a friend and follower of Jesus, please see the devotion entitled, “Come to Jesus” @ http://bit.ly/JVhaLta