Come Holy Spirit – May 27, 2012 – Acts 2: 1 – 21

Someone once asked me if I believed what I prayed in the Lord’s Prayer…“Thy Kingdom Come on Earth as it is in Heaven.”

I continue to act as if I do, I continue to pray as if I do, I hope it could, but No.  I am beginning to not believe that God’s Kingdom will come on this earth.  Yes, God is bigger than this mess.  But, there’s a big mess.

We Didn’t Start the Fire
Source: emvideo-youtube-eFTLKWw542g_5

Sin seems to be so encroaching on the world that many can’t see beyond it to glimpse at the vision of God’s Kingdom.  Billy Joel listed many of the plagues of the then world in his 1989 song “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”[1]  I’ll try to give you some of the list without singing…

“Red China, Richard Nixon, North Korea…H Bomb,
Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser…Communist Bloc,
Roy Cohn, Budapest, Khrushchev (krush-chev)…Trouble in the Suez,
Little Rock, Lebanon…Children of Thalidomide, (tal-id-o-mide)
Space Monkey, Mafia, Castro…Edsel is a no-go,
Eichman, Berlin… Belgians in the Congo, 
Bay of Pigs invasion, British Politician sex, J.F.K. blown away,
Watergate, Palestine…Terror on the airline, Ayatollah’s in Iran,
Russians in Afghanistan, suicide, foreign debts, homeless Vets,
AIDS, Crack…China’s under martial law…”

Seems we have a lot of the same problems…and a few more.   BillyJoel reminds us that we didn’t start this mess.  His chorus:

“We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

That fire has been burning since the world’s been turning, since the Garden of Eden.  We in this room didn’t start it, but we keep it lit.  We keep it lit as our sins add fuel to the fire.  But, we can fight it.  We can continue to act with hope that the Kingdom of God will come on this earth.

To begin the fight against the plagues of our world, we must first recognize the relevance of Christ in our lives and be able to share that with others.  Richard Perto, a Biblical commentator, writes the coming of the Holy Spirit to all who were gathered on the day of Pentecost, from every nation, “symbolizes … the capacity of the gospel to address all sorts and conditions of people in their own terms.”[2]  The message of salvation is not just relevant to us and our situation.  It speaks to every person in every time and in every place.

Today is the day in the life of the Church that we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit has been sent to us to empower us to share the Gospel.  It was given to the Disciples 2,000 years ago.   

The Disciples had gathered together in Jerusalem and were waiting for Christ to fulfill His promise of the Holy Spirit.  Then, it came in a violent rush of wind down from Heaven engulfing the whole house.  The Spirit came upon them like blazing fire and filled each of them. 

And they spoke.  The first fruit of the Spirit, as She erupts into the gathered community, is proclamation.[3]  The Spirit enabled them to prophecy (v. 4).  The miraculous presence of the Holy Spirit causes the community of followers to speak.  Jesus had commissioned the Disciples to preach the Gospel from their doorsteps to the end of the earth, but told them to wait on the Holy Spirit.  It is the Holy Spirit that empowers the Disciples to witness and prophecy.  Proclamation of the story of Jesus is the primary mission of that first community of believers and the Holy Spirit sustained them to fulfill that mission.

The coming of the Spirit marks a shift in the message of salvation.  Jesus the one who had been the Proclaimer of God’s salvation and the forgiveness of sin at the day of Pentecost became the one whom Disciples would proclaim to the world.  Christian Tradition holds that this story tells of the birth of the church.  The group of Disciples and others who followed Jesus and learned from Jesus would now be leaders teaching others about Jesus.

You remember that the Ascension of Jesus began the shift.  The Ascension is the bridge between the ministry of Jesus and the mission of the church.  Jesus having ascended into Heaven has now completed His work by giving the community the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Richard Perto writes: “… {There is a} shift from Jesus as a subject who gathers followers by proclaiming the presence of God’s reign and demonstrating that advent through healings, exorcisms, and acceptance of all at table, to Jesus as the object of proclamation by disciples who now recruit followers.”[4]  Jesus the Proclaimer became the Proclaimed Heavenly Lord.”[5]

This miraculous event caused such a great noise that a bewildered crowd gathered around the house wondering what was going on.  There were Jews from every nation in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost also know as Shavuot or Feast of Weeks.  And they all listened and they heard the Good News proclaimed in their native language.  Amazed and perplexed.  Some thought the Disciples were drunk.

Peter would not have that misperception spread around.  Peter, filled with by the Spirit, went out to the crowd and raised some Heaven.  The world didn’t understand (v. 12) what was going on but Peter explained it to them (v. 15 – 21). 

I hope I belabored the part where the Holy Spirit was the Disciples’ source of inspiration for preaching the Gospel.    That’s why sharing our faith is such an important part of discipleship.  I need to dwell on the importance of telling others about Jesus.  We need to hear the importance of evangelism because there are some alarming statistics about the decline of the church!

There have been many studies which have all produced similar statistics – the church seems to be on its way out.  Over the past 50 years, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has lost over 50% of its membership.  And we’re not alone.  Most mainline Protestant churches have more room in the pews.  Disciples Pastor Martha Grace Reese researched more than 40,000 mainline Protestant churches and found that on average churches have lost 25% of their membership in the last 50 years. 

 That’s why our Pentecost special offering is so important.  We are giving to help new churches start.  We are growing Christ’s Church and fighting for the life of the Church.

Pastor Reese says churches can do a couple of simple things to fight the decline and start growing.  We can pray; we can talk about Jesus, and we can serve others.  “She … found three shared values of growing churches, 1) people love Jesus, 2) people could talk comfortably in normal words about Jesus, and 3) leaders have extraordinary focus outside the church walls.”  In a follow-up to her study, Reese found that the churches experiencing growth were engaged in spiritual growth, prayer, and faith sharing.

Prayer.  Prayer is one of the three important values.  Prayer is easy and we can all do it.  So, I present you with a challenge.  Pick one person in your life who does not have a relationship with Jesus or who is not actively involved in a faith community.  Pray the prayer below for them daily.  Pray that they would began or renew a relationship with Jesus.  Don’t pray for them to come to our church.  The point of this prayer exercise is not about our church; our prayers are for one of our friends and his or her relationship with Jesus.

Prayer for the Conversion of Sinners:
Jesus Christ, most merciful Savior of the world, we humbly beseech You, by Your most Sacred Heart, that all the sheep who have strayed out of Your fold may be converted to You, the Good Shepherd, who lives and reigns with God Almighty in the unity of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

I am already excited about how God is going to answer our prayers.  It is always amazing to see how God works through the Holy Spirit in the lives of those for whom we pray.


[1] Billy Joel, “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” Storm Front, 1989, Sony Music Entertainment, New York, NY.  Lyrics accessed at: http://www.billyjoel.com/music/storm-front/we-didnt-start-fire on17 April, 2010.

[2] Richard Perto, Acts: A Commentary, Hermaneia – A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, ed. Harold W. Attridge (Minneapolis,MN: Fortress Press, 2009), 66.

[3] William H. Willimon, Acts, Interpretation: A Bible commentary for teaching and preaching (Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press, 1988), 30.

[4] Perto, 70.

[5]Ibid.

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One thought on “Come Holy Spirit – May 27, 2012 – Acts 2: 1 – 21

  1. Pingback: Following Jesus Is More Important than Material Gain | KEVIN NUNEZ

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