Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Notes for the Sunday Message; Pentecost 2013; May 19, 2013

This week we will celebrate Pentecost

The story of the Pentecost is told in Acts 2:1-21. You can read it here.

To honor this Holy Day, please wear RED to church this morning.

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There are two days in the Biblical narrative that fascinate me: Easter and Pentecost.

I think that the most important day in the whole Biblical narrative is the day of Easter. It is the day when your salvation and mine became a reality. I believe Easter to be the most important day of our Christian calendar. With all that, if there was just one day in Bible history that I would like to be a part of, it is the day described in today’s reading from Acts, the day of Pentecost. I would want to be a part of the day of Pentecost because it is the most exciting day in the whole of the Biblical narrative. Allow me to explain.

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There is not a single person in this sanctuary whose heart has not been broken at least once. All of us know what a broken heart feels like.

There is not a single person in this room who has not been disappointed at least once in their life because something that they really wanted did not materialize. All of us know what disappointment and frustration feels like.

There in not a single person in this room who has not experienced a significant loss in their lives: the death of a parent or a grandparent, separation from a friend, death of a spouse, a divorce. All of us have experienced grief in our lives.

I am not saying this to depress you. The point that I am trying to make is that on Easter morning the Disciples hearts were broken, their dreams of freedom were nailed to the Cross, their hopes for the future were lost and their friend and leader was dead. The heartbeat of their community was no more. Their pain and anguish must have been unbearable. I don’t know how I would deal with life if I found myself in their shoes.

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I used to wonder why God waited fifty days to send the Holy Spirit into their midst. Think of all the anguish and frustration that the Disciples would have been spared if the Holy Spirit came into their midst sooner, like Monday, just one day AFTER the Resurrection. It was only recently that I understood why it took fifty days for the Holy Spirit to descend to the Disciples.

The Disciples were crushed by Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus embodied their sense of identity and their sense of shared mission. When he died they needed time to grieve and to process what had happened. When he died (even after he revealed himself to them) they needed time to come to terms with the fact that an important season and time of their lives had come to an end. The Disciples needed time and space to process their feelings of loss and emotions of frustration. The Disciples needed time to recognize that although they may never completely recover from their loss, the Sun would rise tomorrow and life would go on. The Disciples needed time and space to accept the fact that their lives would be different and that the call to “follow me”[i] would be different than what they had thought it would be, and what this meant to them, to their families and to all of God’s Creation. In times like this we need to recapture our sense of purpose, to recognize and accept the fact that we are in a different stage of life and that we need to find a different way or ways to apply ourselves.

We know that the Disciples spent quite a bit of time behind closed doors because they were scared. While hiding, they were visited by the resurrected Jesus twice (John 20:19-23 and then “A week later…” John 20:19-31). We know that some of the disciples felt so scared that they actually went back to their old lives, trying to restart their fishing careers. (John 21:1-14). I am talking about “on this rock I will build my church” Peter, about James and John who wanted to sit on either side of Jesus when he came into his kingdom (Mark 10:34-45), about “touch the wounds in my pierced hands so that you no longer doubt” Thomas, and couple of others.

During that period of time the Disciples were caught between the Crucifixion and Resurrection and they struggled with the realities of both. They did not know how to feel or how to proceed with their lives.

The 50 day period between the Crucifixion and Pentecost gave the Disciples time to process what had happened, to accept what they had to accept, to realize that God is still God and that God still cares for God’s Creation and that God could use their gifts, talents and their abilities. Because of that recognition they were ready to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

And who among us does not have memories of something or someone that we cherished and lost. Who among us does not remember a period of time when they had no energy, or were scared, or were angry, and then one day something happened and they recognized that the Grace of God was still with them, they realized that they were still capable of living productive lives and found the desire and courage to do so.

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The Holy Spirit of our Lord descended upon the Disciples when they were ready to receive it. The Holy Spirit of our Lord infused the Disciples with a sense of purpose and mission when they were ready to step out on faith and follow the Spirit’s leading to do what needed to be done.

The Pentecost is the day when the fledgling community of Jesus’ friends and followers was ready to accept that although Jesus was no longer with them in a physical, bodily form, the Holy Spirit was with them and they were far from helpless.

Pentecost is the day when the fledgling community of Jesus’ friends and followers recognized that they could honor Jesus and his life by rolling up their sleeves and making disciples as God commanded, so that the Good News of God’s Love and Grace continued to be proclaimed all through the known world.

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Pentecost happened 2000 years ago and it keeps happening now in our own lives. Most of us do not understand what Pentecost is all about because we do not see ourselves in the story. Let us talk about it…

Pentecost happens in our lives when, after something traumatic or painful, we recognize that life still goes on and that we can honor the past by finding ways to live productive and meaningful lives in the present. Pentecost happens in our lives when we recognize that God is always doing a new thing in our lives and among us. Pentecost happens in our lives when we recognize that the accomplishments and disappointments of the past do not define who we are and that we are capable of being adaptable, flexible and patient because God always has a plan for us; and that when we take the time, energy and patience to discern what God is doing and join God, we can accomplish anything we set our hearts on.

Pentecost happens in every life when we find healing, forgiveness, revival of the soul and transformation after something that has challenged us to the core of our being. Pentecost happens in our lives when we recognize that our history (whether personal or collective) gives us courage to press on and infuses our future with meaning. Pentecost happens in our lives when we realize how our history has shaped who we are today and inspires who we will become tomorrow.

The Holy Spirit of our God is still hovering and brooding over all of God’s Creation. The Holy Spirit of our Lord is among us at Christ United Methodist Church. Do you feel it? Are you willing to take part in God’s creation process…

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[i] Places where Jesus said, “Follow Me.”: John 1:43; John 8:12; John 10:27; John 12:26; John 13:36; John 21:19; John 21:22; Luke 5:27; Luke 9:23; Luke 9:59; Luke 14:27; Luke 18:22; Mark 1:17; Mark 2:14; Mark 8:34; Mark 10:21; Matthew 4:19; Matthew 8:22; Matthew 9:9; Matthew 10:38; Matthew 16:24; Matthew 19:21; Matthew 19:28 (New International Version) – CLICK HERE

Link to Pentecost Sermon 2012

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