The Father, Son, and Who?

Tomorrow we're looking at Acts 2 where Luke describes what many consider to be the beginning of the church. But, what is it about this moment that is different from Jesus gathering his disciples together and giving them the "Great Commission"? Why is THAT not the beginning of the church?

Well, this moment is different not just in circumstance or setting, but in the renewed presence of the Holy Spirit. It's not that the Holy Spirit has been absent from the world just waiting for this moment to make a grand entrance and begin his work. Even as far back as Genesis 1 we read that "the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the deep."

The Holy Spirit has been part of the story all along, but here Luke (the author of Acts) highlights some of the strange phenomena: fire, wind, foreign tongues in order to billboard for us that something new – and exceedingly potent – is taking place.

I'm taking a bit different direction in the sermon tomorrow that doesn't burrow as deeply into some of the themes common to a Pentecost sermon so I wanted to make sure that we recognized that which Pentecost signifies: the somewhat bizarre establishment and commissioning of the church to carry on Jesus' mission in light of his departure. 

The Holy Spirit (or just Holy Spirit, without the the, because as one of my seminary prof's was fond of reminding us – we're referencing a person not a thing) tends to be the overlooked, if not mostly forgotten member of the Godhead. But, Holy Spirit is equal in glory and power and divinity to the Father and Son so our spiritual mothers and fathers decided to set aside a Sunday to remind us that we are a community because God's Spirit descended upon those early disciples in miraculous ways. 

This community, this church learned and prayed together, they opened their homes, they shared their possessions, they broke the bread of grace and offered it to one another, and their community grew with people not of their choosing and not always of their tribe.

This nascent church was commissioned you see not simply with a message to tell but with a common life and communal practices that were just as much part of the message as anything which could be verbalized. 

God's Spirit commissioned them yes, into the far reaches of the known world, but he first made them into something new. It's one thing to carry a message; any person with a good memory can do that. It's another thing entirely to embody that message, one that demands an ongoing work of self-displacement as a means of validating its truthfulness! That, that requires the Spirit of God. And, that's what Pentecost says is present even now for all of us to take hold of.