Jesus has ascended into Heaven and the Holy Spirit enters. This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday, a day that is recognized as the birthday of the church. This day typically gets overshadowed by other significant religious holidays, like Christmas and Easter, but today is a celebration nonetheless. The image above is of a familiar tune and a tune that gets sung to us every year. Can you guess the song? Of course, it’s “Happy Birthday!”
The last time I gave a sermon at Pacific Beach UMC, I delivered a message titled “The Promise of Baptism,” where I spoke of Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist. Again, I come to deliver another sermon on baptism, where the prophecy of John has been fulfilled in “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit”– referring back to Mark 1:8. I would like to say that this was planned from the start and that, of course, I would have researched far in advance to piece all this together. But alas, all the credit is given to the Holy Spirit. In the scripture reading on Acts 2: 1-21, God sends the Holy Spirit through Jesus gifting the disciples and everyone around a baptism through the Spirit. God breaks the binary, otherness, in which language, nationality, gender, sexuality, race, culture, ability no longer holds us back from understanding one another, and unites us so that we can be one in the Holy Spirit. This is the birth of a new church. A celebration in oneness.
We continue with our dual opportunities for 9:00 am worship on-line and in the Fellowship Hall. We are week by week modifying our gathering in Fellowship Hall and this week we’ll introduce the first live element, the sermon. No reservations are required to attend the Worship Watch Party on campus but all will be asked to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines and if we have more people than can safely be in the Fellowship Hall, we’ll seat people outside with an audio feed of the service.
I hope you’ll join us for worship this Sunday as we offer our praise and thanks to God, as we connect with God’s love, community and call and as we explore our faith together. You are also invited to join the Wednesday Bible Study that reviews the scripture and sermon topic from the previous Sunday and reflects on the questions of the week. If you’re interested in joining us from 11:30 to 12:30 on Wednesdays, please reach out to the church office or Erich Grimm-Schmitt for more details.
United in the Spirit,
Acts 2:1-21 (NRSV)
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 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. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
‘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.
Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
Questions to consider:
- You can imagine the shock and confusion of the disciples as they spoke in a language not of their native tongue, not only to speak but to understand others as well. What would your reaction be if you were given the ability to speak and hear other languages?
- Remembering your baptism and the Church during that time, what are some major differences from then and now? Societal, cultural, policies, achievements, back-steps. . .
- Has the identity and/or purpose of church changed?
- Before blowing out the candles on a birthday cake, you pause and make a wish. What is your wish for PBUMC for now until the next birthday of the Church?