Preaching to the Choir

These are some sermons, but mostly lectionary discussions. It also has prayers for some Sundays.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Pentecost Sunday

And Mother's day all on the same Sunday? Just what is one to do with this Sunday? How is one to preach?

For those of us who are UMC, here are the scriptures from the Lectionary;
  • Acts 2:1-21
  • Psalm 104:24-34, 35b (UMH 826)
  • 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13
  • John 7:37-39
  • Vanderbilt Divinity Library offers the lectionary passages online.

    Acts 2:1-21 begins with those well known words, "When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place." Isn't it key that they were all gathered together in one place. place.
    Next we read: "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." It was sudden, it was a sound that they had no words for other than saying; "like a rush of a violent wind." And this sound filled the house entirely. Well, either they were all of a sudden in the midst of a blizzard, tornado, cyclone or hurricane. If you have been in the middle of either of those; you know how loud and fierce the sound can be, it is overwhelming, and heart pounding.
    Next; "Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them." Fired often divides and can look like tongues licking at whatever is around it as it is fed by oxygen. What a powerful image. But then we are told "a tongue rested on them." They were not consumed by the fire, burned up but a single tongue rested on each of them.
    This is what that one tongue of fire did; "All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability." Not one was left out of this feast, everybody got some. And everybody was given a language to speak as the Spirit gave them ability. Too many times we worry about what gift, what ability we bring to the table. Stop worrying, the scripture tells us God has got you covered. Now use it.

    Well, as you read further, you read how everybody was amazed that these Galileans whom they assumed to be uneducated could speak in these different languages and understand others as well. You just can't limit God and the work of the Holy Spirit in humans. It is outside our little boxes. And what did those hearing and seeing this say. They were like any human being, when we don't understand something; we give it a label, call it a name, and more often than not something not nice. But others sneered and said, "They are filled with new wine." All I got to say is, "give me some of that new wine, then."

    I was speaking to a young man from China who was our Waiter yesterday at a local restaurant. I had responded in Chinese to something he said to me in Chinese. And I said, "I am sorry if I didn't pronounce it right, I am from the south and we just cannot pronounce the Chinese language properly." I think it is good to try to speak the language as you are able and to try to pronounce it as correctly as you can. But in my trying to be respectful, I have often found out later, I had said words that have other meanings. Whoops. I wish I could speak Chinese. I wish the Holy Spirit would give me the gift to do so as I am able. What language do you wish you could speak to be able to relate to others different than yourself, so that the message of Christ was spread?

    I can speak a little Spanish, but I am out of practice. I worked on getting back in practice when living in Wadley where we had so many from Hispanic countries immigrating there to work. As I spoke and listened I got a little better each day. Growing up in Florida speaking and listening helped along with the required classes in HS and College. What language have you studied that God can use in you to get the message across?

    Better yet, what are some of your gifts and graces that God has gifted you with that can be utilized to reach others. We got a young man in our church who plays baseball, and plays it well.
    We got a young woman who has just the sunniest disposition you will ever meet. We have a man who lays floors, he meets people I will never meet on a daily basis. We have an older man who has spent his life volunteering his time at the local volunteer Fire Dept.

    How has the one tongue of the Holy Spirit like fire rested on you?

    From the other side of it, just how have you tried to put that flame out? How have others over lifetime done that to you? How have you even tried to do the same to others? How have you tried to be like others? Or fit in? How have people tried to do that to you? How have you done that yourself to others?

    Because you see the bottom line is in verse 21 "Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." The outpouring of the Holy Spirit comes about so that then everyone will call on the name of the Lord and be saved. It isn't just to make you feel better, look better, preach better, or speak better. It is so that everyone will call on the name of the Lord and be saved.

    And the Holy Spirit is for every one, not just males, not just the educated, not just us Protestants, not just the middle class, not just us here in the USA, not just those at a certain age. No, read these verses;
    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.

    So what are your thoughts on these scriptures? I'll be writing more each day on the other scriptures as well. So hang on for the Pentecost Ride this week. And may the one tongue rest on you so that everyone will call upon the name of the Lord and be saved.

    For some more resources on Pentecost Sunday go to Text this Week Check out the various links and resources you will find there. Follow also the link to the resources for the Acts passage as well.

    Picture of Pentecost Quilt
    Linda Schmidt Textile Artist, Quilter, Designer


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