Before nine o'clock in the morning a small group of people gathered in a room in Jerusalem experienced a life-changing, world-shaking experience. It was the Feast of Shavuot, or Pentecost -- the spring harvest festival and also the commemoration of God's giving the law on Mt. Sinai, recounted in the Book of Exodus. Those few followers of Jesus who gathered in that room in Jerusalem had experienced the loss of Jesus on Good Friday, the joy of his resurrection, and now, after his departure from them, felt again a loss, a lack of direction, until they received the amazing gift of the power of the risen Jesus through the Holy Spirit. They experienced it as fire and shaking, as if they couldn't contain the potential and the power of that moment. You can read about it in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. We will tell the story in church on Sunday.
They went out into the streets to tell people who had gathered for the feast from many places, speaking many languages, representing many cultures. Those few followers found a way to speak to all of them in a way they could be understood. That is the day the community of disciples, the Church, became the living presence of the risen Lord in the world.
When we think about it, we are not that different as Christians in the 21st century. In fact, I wonder if we sometimes feel like those folks gathered in the room on Pentecost-- a group of not so many followers of Jesus, wondering what it means to follow him. Wondering how they might have power and a lively faith and hope to live their lives.
On Sunday we commemorate Pentecost. We remember the day that changed the world and human history. And we might want to pray for another outpouring of the power of the Holy Spirit. Just like those first disciples, because we are the body of the risen Lord in the world. Yet sometimes I think we feel paralyzed. We may feel like we don't have the courage to be the Church, we don't have the knowledge or the wisdom or the understanding to bring Christ to the world. But all of those things are gifts of the Holy Spirit. So pray that you and all of us might become energized with the fire of the Spirit, with the message of the Gospel this Sunday.
Most importantly, just come to church. This is not a day to sleep in or read the newspaper. All of us need you here so that together we can celebrate this feast and pray that together we might be Jesus' hands and feet in the world. But it starts with our own experience of that Pentecost power in each of our hearts.