Greetings, faithful servants at Vanna, June 2013
What a wonderful homecoming we had two Sundays ago. It was such a pleasure to have the Dove Sisters & Gus with us. The fact that it was Pentecost Sunday was icing on the cake. Pentecost Sunday marks the end of the “Great Fifty Days” of the Easter Season. If you were with us for homecoming, you already know that Pentecost means 50th day. On Sunday, we read part of Acts 2, which records the birth of the Christian church on that first Pentecost.
The 50th day is the last day in the Jewish countdown that starts at Passover and ends with the arrival of the Festival of Weeks, a celebration of God giving the Israelites the ten commandments.
For Christians, the 50th day celebrates God giving Christ’s disciples the Holy Spirit. These are two very different events that occur on the 50th day. If you consider the implications of both events, you can see that Pentecost represents an ending as well as a beginning. In both the Israelite and Christian communities, some type of alteration took place on Pentecost that resulted in permanent changes to the normal way of living. The old passed away. Something new took its place.
After receiving God’s law, Israelites could no longer make easy excuses for living disobedient, sinful, idolatrous lives. Now, they had God’s law to counsel and guide them. Likewise, after receiving God’s Spirit, Christians can no longer make easy excuses for living selfish, faithless, unfruitful lives.
Now, we have God’s Spirit to counsel and guide us. Both communities were forever changed by their respective Pentecostal experiences.
As we move into June, I urge each of you to make time this month to read the entire book of Acts. There are 28 chapters in the book. Try to read one chapter each day. Everyone, read it for yourselves! Parents, read a chapter to your children each night as a bedtime story, even if you think they are too young to understand it right now.
In Isaiah 55:10, God makes an astonishing declaration:
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they
have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
So, read the Bible to even the youngest ones, trusting that God is accomplishing something wonderful through your simple act of reading scripture to them.
Grandparents, read Acts to your grandchildren. Aunts and uncles, read it to your nieces and nephews. Discuss the stories with them. Ephesians 6:4 says that children are to be brought up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Deuteronomy 6:4-7 says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.” What better way is there to teach children about God than by reading to them from the Bible and discussing what you’ve read?
Acts is full of interesting characters and exciting stories, but it also teaches profound truths about who we are as disciples of Christ, the work of the Holy Spirit in the church, and how God wants us to worship together as a community of faith. I don’t know how much interest you have in your spiritual lineage, but the book of Acts tells stories about our ancestors. It records part of our family history.
Knowing more about the beliefs and practices of our ancient relatives can help us live out the reality of Pentecost in the most selfless, faithful, and fruitful way.
May the Holy Spirit’s powerful presence delight us, surprise us, and transform us by giving us personal experiences of Pentecost as we read through Acts together.
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