Sermon at First Presbyterian Church Lockhart

"Pentecost – What’s it all about?"

John 14:8-27, Psalm 104:24-34, Romans 8:14-17, Acts 2:1-21,

May 23, 2010

by James Greene

 

           Today is Pentecost Sunday.  It marks the foundational beginning of “the church”.  I used a different order in the readings, to help bring focus upon the significance of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles in the temple,

in Jerusalem.

 

           In John this morning, we see Jesus being asked by Philip to “show us the Father”.  Jesus’ response is that anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.  He announces the coming of the Holy Spirit  the Spirit of Truth” that will be in you, not just for a little while, but forever.

 

In Psalm 104 we see the works of the Lord in creation. We see the power of God's rule, and His Glory reflected in the creation.  We see God’s provision and sustaining power over life.  He has put eternity in our souls.  It is that part of us that connects us to the God of the universe.  Our song and our praise is our response to that Divine Spark (that Spirit) within us, described by John Calvin.   

 

           In Romans, Paul shows us how those who are led by the Spirit are the sons of God.  It is in our adoption, that we have the full privileges of a natural son, as the children of God and as the co-heirs with Christ, in the Father’s inheritance of The Kingdom and His Glory.

 

It is in our reading from Acts 2:1-21 that we see the Pentecost event with the pouring out of God's Spirit on the Apostles.  Here they are gathered in the Temple for the Feast of Pentecost and the Holy Spirit comes upon them and they begin to praise God in the languages of the people gathered there.  The people hear The Word, and ask: What is it all about?  What is going on here?  Aren’t these people all from Galilee?  How is it that we hear them praising God in our own native language?

 

 

First -- lets look into the Old Testament history of the Passover and Pentecost to understand the significance of the event of the Holy Spirit being poured out upon the apostles, and their speaking languages that were not native to them.

 

Pentecost is the Greek term for 50, and the Jewish Feast of Weeks. It takes place seven weeks after the Passover.  It is a one day festival to give thanks to God. 

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This one-day festival, was to remember the Lord as the source of rain and the earth’s fertility found in Deuteronomy 16:9-12.  It has several names in the Old Testament.  It is known as: The Feast of the Harvest, The Feast of Weeks, and Pentecost. 

In Numbers 28:26, it is describe as “On the day of first fruits when you present your gift to the Lord, an offering of new grain during the Festival of Weeks, hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.”  This is the only festival in Ancient Israel that is not associated with a redemptive act of the Lord, in their historical tradition.

(like the Exodus)

Israel’s calendar is based upon the seasons and the crops.  The time from the Passover to Pentecost was the bringing in of the wheat and barley harvest that were planted over the winter.  It was during this seven week period, that they gathered in the first harvest of the agricultural year.  The Festival of Weeks is the one day, when they stopped, and gave an offering to the Lord; the grain of the first fruits of the harvest season, were presented to the Lord. 

It was also identified as the season of the giving, and the reading of the Torah,  The Law was brought out and read to the people in the morning service of the synagogue.

 

This Festival of First Fruits, is just the 'beginning' of the harvest season.  This

Is a one day pause in the harvest when they praise God for his provision.  At the end of the agricultural year was the Feast of Tabernacles, also known as the Feast of Ingathering.  This was to celebrate the final fall harvest.

           So what is this all about?  What is going on here?  What is so significant in this festival in this time called Pentecost? 

 

           The speaking of God’s praise in languages by the Apostles, is a significant event.  This is revealed in the book of Joel 2:27-29. (read)     It is a picture of what is like to be in the Kingdom.  God’s Spirit is to be poured out on "all flesh" - sons, daughters, old, young, servants and handmaids. In Zechariah 8:22-23 "And, many peoples and powerful nations will come and seek the Lord Almighty and to entreat Him.  This is what the Lord Almighty says; In those days ten men from all languages and nations, will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, “let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you."

 

           The insight --is that we see Peter and the 10 in the temple fulfilling the words of Zachariah, with the Pentecost event.  With the Good News, Pentecost is the beginning of the harvest.  It is the Apostles with the beginning of the church.  The Holy Spirit is poured out upon the people.

 

Theologically, is the time of the beginning of the harvest. 

It is the beginning of the bringing in of God's people that Christ was teaching in Matthew 9:37-38 when he said: ‘the harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few: Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.”

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The key element of Pentecost is that God is being praised in the common tongues!  It is the beginning of bringing the Good News to all people in their own language..  The Promise fulfilled among the Jews at Pentecost, has also become the Promise fulfilled among the Gentiles.

 

           What is Pentecost all about?  What is going on here?  Pentecost is the beginning of the Church’s harvest season.  It is mirrored in the Old Testament and explained in the New Testament teachings of Christ.  In the Old Testament is the outline of the New Testament’s fulfilling of the coming of God’s Kingdom that is described in prophesy, and by Jesus.

 

           Jesus is the first fruits of the Resurrection.  With the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles at Pentecost and the giving of Praise to God for the first fruits of the Resurrection Harvest.  It is the beginning of the church.  It is the day set aside to praise God for his provision, and the fulfilling of The Law, that is being read at Pentecost.

With the Pentecost event, and the coming of the Holy Spirit upon God’s people, we celebrate the pouring out of God’s Spirit on all people.  Like the Jewish festival, it too is only the beginning of the harvest season.  It is the time to stop and give thanks to God for the coming of The Christ, “the first fruits”, of the resurrection and the reconciliation of mankind and creation to God.

Pentecost is the beginning of the work of the church.  It is the time where the church is called to go into the work of the fields and continue the harvest started with Jesus.  The pouring out of God’s power in the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles was the continuation of the harvest.

 

           The Church is in the harvest season.  The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  We are in the middle of the work.  It is our job, as the church, to bring the Good News to the people,   from the Christ who points us to God, and God’s intention for the creation.  As the church, we are called to the work of bringing in The Kingdom as part of God’s plan.  So, at the end of the age, we all will celebrate with The Christ with the final ingathering, in the final harvest of God, the Festival of Booths which is the celebration of God’s great provision, and the great banquet of our God at the end of time as we know it: The final harvest of the resurrection.

 

           What is Pentecost all about?  It is about going forth from this place as the people of God, to spread and to share the Good News with all people.  Pray that we may turn to the work before us in this season of harvest bringing God’s people into fellowship with God in the Kingdom.  We do this in the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us, and that spirit, we share with all people.  We as followers of the Christ, must continue the work of the Harvest in bringing in The Kingdom…..          

 

           In the Name of    the Father,   the Son,   and the Holy Spirit.  Amen

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Pastoral Prayer                                                                                                   5/23/10

           Dear Lord, we give thanks for your Spirit revealed to us through your Son.  You call us, to the work of the Harvest.   We praise you in all of our works and your promise offered to us by your Son.  Help us to live worthy of being called Children of God.  Help us to bring about your Kingdom through the power of the Holy Spirit. Help us to live in your love, in the fellowship of the church.

           O Lord, we pray for Your Spirit that teaches and sustains us in and through your Word.  Bring about your Oneness as your people. Turn our hearts to you, help us to live into your love, and will.  We give thanks for your provision for us.

           We pray for those in leadership in our government that their focus is in Your Word and Your Will. We pray for our President and those in Congress. Watch over the men and women in our armed forces, who answer the call to serve You and our country.  Stand with and comfort them on their duty, and in their service; be their comfort, defender, and shield

           We pray for the capping of the well in the Gulf, that it would prevent further damage to the creation.

           Your Son laid down his life for us, in Righteousness. 

Help us to live our life in Your Love and Righteousness as The People of God.                                   

           We pray for those who's spirit need our comfort.  For the Wilson and Hoffman families in the loss of their mother Estelle.  Let us be your helping grace.

We pray for those who are sick, or in the hospital, or in need of your healing compassion.

name:

*George Miller for healing,                            *Tom Miller for healing

*Leticia Frausto for healing, and chemo       *WayneWallace – surgery Monday

*Betty Burton for strength                              *Kimberly Preweet – for recovery chemo

*Pastor James Lee for strength                                *Kay Duffield – for strength and recovery

*Lyle Looger -for strength and recovery       *Tom Bennet – for strength

*David Koch - for healing and recovery.      

 

           We pray for those we name, in our hearts, … and to remember that all things,

including this life,  is a gift  from you. 

We give thanks for this Christian fellowship, that sustains us in our trials and problems;  You hold us in the comfort of your loving care. We know Salvation is found in you alone.  And help us to live our lives and trust in you alone, through your living Word,

Jesus the Christ,  -who taught us to pray:

 

Charge and Benediction

 

Remember that you are God’s people,---- that you go out in the power of God’s Spirit

to change the world,      to bring The Good News        to all people…

 in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.