What an eventful Pentecost Sunday!
My daughter, Megan, was back home from her InterVarsity retreat (for the minute-and-a-half that she’ll be home before she leaves again for her month-long Golden Apple teacher’s training, from which she’ll then leave for a different, month-long leadership training conference with InterVarsity!), so it was a special treat to be able to have her around this weekend.
In the service itself, Linda Irwin reminded us that the Muslim holy prayer month of Ramadan has begun, and that both Muslims and Christians around the world could use our prayer support. Attacks against non-Muslims tend to increase significantly around the world during Ramadan, but it also affords a unique opportunity for God to make Himself known to Muslims during this time as well, since they are devoutly seeking His leading. Please be praying for God’s church to be strengthened during Ramadan.
We were also blessed in the service to hear Jenny Wietharn read our Scripture passage in German, and Brian Barry read it in Spanish -- reminding us that when the Holy Spirit baptized the members of the early church on that first Pentecost morning after Jesus died, He poured out His truth to everyone around them in their own heart languages. What an amazing moment in history that would’ve been to be a witness to!
Later on in the afternoon, I had the opportunity to watch my son, Alex, graduate from Morton High School. It’s been a wonderful privilege to be able to watch Alex grow up into such a fine young man. Wendy and I are trying to invest some quality time into spending quality time with him this Summer before he goes off to college in the Fall...
In our message this week, we entered into the New Testament phase of “The Bible--The Musical!” by looking at the “Songs of Pentecost” (and yes, there were several of them). See, there were traditionally several Scriptures that were read at Shavuot (the Jewish “Feast of Weeks,” aka the “Feast of Firstfruits,” aka Pentecost) in the first century, such as the Book of Ruth (due to its “harvest” elements), as well as songs like Psalm 67 (also due to its “harvest” elements, but moreso due to the fact that it has 49 words--one word for each day between Passover and Pentecost), Song of Songs 4:11 (which they saw as being about how sweet God’s Word is), etc. They’d sing an ancient version of the Azharot, listing the 613 commandments in the Old Testament, and even spend all night studying Scripture together.
Of course, they also held to a number of non-Biblical traditions and myths about Pentecost, such as that it was the day that God gave His covenant to Noah on Ararat, or His Law through Moses at Sinai (at which point, according to myth, his words were split into 70 different tongues), or even the day that David was born and died. None of that is from the Bible, but all of those things were bouncing around in people’s heads when they thought about Pentecost.
And God used all of those things to prepare them--to prime them--to hear what He wanted to tell them on that Pentecost morning. Peter stood up and preached that God was sharing His sweet Truth yet again to His people (just like He did through Moses, just like they’d been singing about all night), and that He was fulfilling His new covenant (echoing what He’d given to Noah), through our kinsman-redeemer Jesus Christ (like a Divine version of Boaz), whom they’d crucified, to reach the whole world (just as they’d sung in Psalm 67). Peter even showed them how David (whom they’d been celebrating at the Feast) had prophetically sung about all of this in his Psalms, and tied it all together by saying that everything he’d been preaching was simply fulfilling the prophecies of the prophet Joel--and then he sang part of that prophecy as well.
God used everything in their lives, everything that they’d been doing as part of their Pentecost worship--including even their silliest, most ridiculous misconceptions--to prepare them to be ready to let God fill them with His Spirit and change them into His witnesses to the world.
So how is God preparing you today for the same thing? If you’re a Christian, then the Holy Spirit dwells within you right now. Do you want merely the lightest misting of that Spirit in your life? Or do you want to be immersed in Him, saturated in Him, and changed by Him into a witness for God’s glory? What is God using in your life to prepare you to hear what He wants to tell you?
Take a moment to pray about that today, and listen to what God says to you...