Note to the reader
I preached this sermon at University Church of the Nazarene (on the campus of Africa Nazarene University, outside Nairobi, Kenya) on June 4, 2017.
Text: Acts 2:1-13
Everyone was excited about the Feast of Weeks. They called it Shavuot, or Pentecost. They counted them down with anticipation. From Passover to the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mt Sinai — count ’em: 7 weeks, 50 days. And so from all over the Mediterranean basin and beyond, Jews who had scattered descended upon Jerusalem for a 2 day celebration. It was party time!
A surprising twist
Do you like surprises? On Pentecost, God did something surprising, something these Jewish pilgrims could not have expected. Now, the 120 gathered praying in the Upper Room knew what Jesus had said. Just before he ascended to heaven, the Lord had promised:
In a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5, CEB).
But the visitors to Jerusalem knew nothing of Jesus’ promise.
When the wind blew, when the Holy Spirit descended, when the fire lit over the heads of the 120, when they heard them speaking their languages, miraculously empowered by God, the crowds were amazed. Some thought they were drunk, even though it was only 9 a.m.!
The rest of Acts 2 records Peter’s sermon. You might call it a birthday sermon. No, it wasn’t Peter’s birthday, but if was the birthday of the Church.
3 Lessons from Pentecost
Today is Pentecost Sunday. It’s the day on the Christian Calendar when churches around the world commemorate the coming of the Holy Spirit on that day so long ago. Red is the traditional color of Pentecost, symbolizing the fire of the Holy Ghost. Pentecost sometimes is overlooked. It may seem less important than Christmas (the Festival of the Incarnation) or Easter (the Festival of the Resurrection). Yet Pentecost Sunday is foundational for our faith, especially for our life together as the Church, the People of God. As we consider Acts 2, let’s look together at 3 lessons from Pentecost:
Lesson 1 – We really need the Holy Spirit.
Lesson 2 – We really need a new direction.
Lesson 3 – We really need each other.