Happy Birthday, Church! - For Adults and for Family
Pentecost is the birthday of the church. But a birth is not an end, it is a beginning. This Sunday, June 9th, we celebrate the day of Pentecost and above all it is a day of new beginnings. The church was born, and the church grew, nourished by wind, by fire, and by the ability — and the willingness — to speak, as the Spirit gave them utterance, in new and different languages – to basically get out of their comfort zone of the upper room and go into the community to share the love of God in Jesus Christ.
And it wasn’t long before there was another kind of Pentecost occurred. That second Pentecost is described for us in the 10th and 11th chapters of this very same book, The Acts of the Apostles. The apostle Peter found himself in a strange country, staying in a strange place. He was, Acts 10 tells us, staying with Simon, a tanner, of all people.
What’s going on here? Tanners — tradesmen who work with the hides and skins of dead animals — were to be shunned by good Jews because their handling of carcasses rendered them unclean. Yet Peter — a good, devoutly religious Jew if ever there was one — is staying with such a one. I would say Peter is way out of his comfort zone of doing things the way they have always been done. During his prayer time he goes to the roof and falls asleep during his prayers. He has a dream in which he sees, lowered from heaven, a sheet full of all sorts of game animals the Hebrew scriptures tell good religious folk to shun as unclean. And right then, there is a voice saying, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” And Peter’s response is the expected one: “Never! I’ve never touched anything unclean!” And again, that strangely familiar voice: “What God has made clean, you must not call unclean!”
Peter does not know what to make of all this. He is mulling it over, when just then, he is approached by Gentiles — by people regarded by the devout as outsiders, foreigners, people to be shunned in the same way that unclean food is to be shunned. They tell him of a God-fearing man named Cornelius, who has had a dream of his own, and they ask Peter to accompany them to their gathering of faithful Gentiles, people who honor the Jewish people and the God of Israel. Peter goes, and he meets with this gathering of Gentiles. No Comfort Zone here. Peter speaks to them, tells them about Jesus, tells them about the church, tells them about that day, not so long ago, when the Spirit blew through like a mighty wind, hovering over the faithful as tongues of fire … And suddenly, while Peter is still speaking, that same Spirit descends like wind, like fire, upon these Gentiles, outsiders, foreigners! A second Pentecost!
Friends, that Spirit is already among us. We don’t have to wait for tongues of fire and visions of unclean animals. We are the church, and this is Pentecost. Actually, every day is Pentecost, a time where God’s Spirit fills us and moves us out of our comfort zone to witness to God’s great love in Jesus Christ.
Remember a birth is a beginning, not an ending.
Great idea Pastor! Wonderful thoughts! How do we share faith? Watch for details of a special class in faith sharing.
Celebrate Pentecost at Home with your children or grandchildren.
Birthday of The Church
Lesson: Filled with the Holy Spirit.
Object: Balloons and birthday cake with candles, maybe even some ice cream.
Do you know someone who has a birthday this month?
We should have a party. Do you get excited about parties? Parties are fun, aren't they? Do you know what I think is part of the great fun of parties and special events? It is the anticipation – which is the wondering what is going to happen -- because you are filled with all the possibilities of joy. You get excited and more excited as the event draws closer and closer. Sometimes you feel like you just can't wait!
The disciples of Jesus had an experience like that. Before Jesus went back to be with God, He told them to wait in Jerusalem because God was going to release his power on them. That day was called "Pentecost" and, after the anticipation and excitement of waiting, God did just as Jesus had promised. He released his mighty power on those disciples. And they preached and spoke to people from all over the world who were in Jerusalem in their native tongues, and thousands of people believed in Jesus.
Pentecost became the birthday of the church! That's why we celebrate Pentecost, because since that day God has been doing new and wonderful things by the power of his Holy Spirit in the world. I think a birthday celebration calls for balloons and cake and candles, don't you? Let's celebrate what God is doing in his church today and through his Holy Spirit.
(Ask your children to prayer and thank God for the church!) Let’s blow out the candle and enjoy the cake.