A New Spirit for a New Season
There is no question that for the early church, their celebration of the Feast of Pentecost was a turning point event.
They were all in one room, quietly praying, when all of a sudden, they all began to raise their voices and, with a mighty roar, they all realized that a new season had begun – They all felt that they had been filled with the Spirit that their Lord had promised.
St Luke tells us that it was Shavuot, Festival of Weeks, one of the three required pilgrimage feasts that the Jewish community celebrated to honor the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai. So, in the city there were not only the regular dwellers but also those who had lingered in the city since the celebration of the Passover, plus the pilgrims that had arrived to celebrate Shavuot.
Shavuot always included festive meals for it also celebrated the first barley and wheat harvest of the year. Many brought their offerings to the temple, and all were enjoying festive meals – with plenty of dairy products, including cheese and yes, you guessed it right, wine.
So, in hearing the noise, I can imagine that visitors as well as the local folk started wondering, “Isn’t it too early for getting drunk?” Cue Peter, who preached his first sermon with great zeal. No, they were not drunk, he told the gawkers. “What is going on is not fruit of spirits, but rather it is of the Spirit of God!” And the rest, as they say, is history.
From scared to bold – even, boisterous heralds. From clandestine disciples to overt followers. From timid or even tepid to fearless and brave apostles. From one small room to the public square.
Yes, it was the Spirit of God at work in them. But the Spirit did not make them robots or zombies, or uncontrolled puppets. First, they had to open their mouth to speak without knowing exactly what was going to happen. And then, they had to walk out of their closet and come out for all to see their new faith in their Redeemer, whom they proclaimed Lord of creation.
Yes, it was the Spirit of God at work in them. But, even if a great multitude joined them as disciples of the Risen Savior many sneered at them, “They are all drunk!”
Yes, it was the Spirit of God at work in them. But they had to learn in only one quick lesson – God does not have a favorite language, race, or culture. In other words, the disciples had to move away from their secluded and secure comfort zone to reach out to people who otherwise would not have been deemed worthy of notice.
Yes, it was the Spirit of God at work in them. But they had to act what they received, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Like the crippled man, they had to pick up themselves up, and start walking. And because they were faithful and obedient, hopeful and daring, we are who we have come to be, believers in the Risen Lord and His message of grace, mercy, reconciliation and love.
Today we begin a new season – The Season of Pentecost. But I would like to invite you to consider the days and weeks ahead as “The Season of the Great Commission.” Indeed, the Gospel that we just have read includes our Savior’s commission not only to his early disciples but to you and me: “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”
As restrictions from the Covid-19 epidemic begin to ease, consider this time as the countdown to a new season of discovery, growth, and loving service in the name of your Savior. Discover of all that you can accomplish once you begin to realize the empowering presence of God’s Spirit. Grow into the fullness of what God wants you to be and to do. Serve others in the same way that Jesus, came to serve, and not to be served.
Like the early disciples we are being called to get out of our comfort zone and start reaching others with a word of encouragement, grace, and love. It is the season to reach those others that we otherwise would not deem worthy of attention – or for being the target of our contempt.
But do you know what? The Spirit of the Living God is in you. Yes, He is. And to do what God is asking us to do is to do what the early disciples did. Get out of our comfort zone and, like them, start sharing “Glad tidings, tidings of peace. Tidings of Jesus, redemption, and release.”
Spirit of the Living God: You visited our early fathers and mothers in the faith and empowered them to preach, to teach, and to serve others in the Name of Jesus: Help us to discover the same gifts in us, so that we too, may glorify God in our lives and seasons. Amen.