What would it have been like to be there; to be in Jerusalem that busy, urban center at the beginning of the Christian era, at the beginning of the Christian Church? Walking those narrow streets, crowded with people from all over the known, and the unknown, world? “Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs…”
Eventually finding yourself in an open square filled with people, standing before a house where the followers of Jesus had gathered? “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. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.”
It would have been wild. It would have been crazy. It would have been chaotic, and maybe even a bit scary. You would have been amazed and astonished, and perhaps perplexed.
But for sure you would have known that something new and different and powerful and transformative for the world had taken place… and maybe even transformative for you, yourself. But at that moment you’re not sure, you don’t know what it means.
And then this powerful figure rises and stands above the crowds and tells you and all assembled what it means as he repeats the words of the prophet Joel,
“…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.” It is the Lord’s great and glorious day.
And then you remember the scripture, “And all flesh shall see it together.” And you see it. You get it. You believe it. You know it.
You have a new and powerful sense of yourself as God’s child, so beloved by God that God’s Spirit would descend upon you. God’s blessing would be upon you.
And you resolve to build your life anew upon it. You want all people – you want the world – to see and know what God has done in Jesus of Nazareth and how God has empowered the people by the coming of the Holy Spirit. You want the world to be built anew upon it.
You want it for those you love, you want it for your family, you want it for your friends, you want it for those who are closest to you and you want it for those who do not have it or know it or who live across the world. You want them to know this joy, you want them to receive this power, you want them to claim this purpose for their lives.
It is as if you are filled with new wine… filled to overflowing with God’s Holy Spirit and Power and you want it to flow out and over all those around you.
And here we are today, two millennia later remembering how it was, way back there, back when God’s Spirit came so powerfully onto God’s people, came so powerfully into God’s world. And perhaps we wonder, What has happened? Where is that presence? Where is that power, today, in my life, in this world?
I want to say to you that “Today is Pentecost.” Today is the Day of the Lord. Today God’s Holy Spirit has come upon you. Today you are declared God’s beloved. Today you are to know that Jesus of Nazareth was born and lived and ministered and was crucified and died and was resurrected to life and has ascended to God’s right hand – all for you and for the life of the world.
You have been called by name. You have been saved. You have been baptized by water and the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit has descended upon you and enriched your life already and empowered you – and sent you into God’s world that does not know God. Sent to God’s world that knows not God’s power. Sent to God’s world does not know God’s presence. Sent to God’s world does not know that Jesus has come to save the world. Sent to God’s world does not know that life lived in Christ and in the power of the Spirit is a life filled with joy and purpose and power and fulfillment. Sent to God’s world, which God has created and redeemed and loves and will not ever abandon.
Today is Pentecost, a day to know anew God’s power and presence and purpose in our own lives and in the lives of those around us, indeed in the life of the world.
It is the Lord’s great and glorious day and you are God’s great and glorious child upon whom his spirit has come to rest. It is a day when everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.