Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pentecost - A sign for all to see

And in the fulfillment of the Fiftieth Day, they were all of a place in one accord. And it happened immediately out of heaven a sound as a moving, strong wind and it filled the whole of the house where they were sitting, and appeared to them, being distributed, tongues as fire and it sat upon each one of them....And Peter, standing for the 11, lifted his voice and proclaimed to them: "Men of Judea and all those residing in Jerusalem, may this, to you, be made known, and pay attention to my utterance...this is the utterance through the prophet Joel: "And it will be in the last days, says God, I will pour out from My Spirit upon all flesh, and will prophesy–your sons and your daughters, and your young men will see sights and your elders will dream dreams; and both upon my male slaves and upon my female slaves in those days pour out from My Spirit, and they will prophesy; and I will give omens in the heaven above and signs upon the earth below, blood and fire and mist of smoke; the sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood before the coming of the Day of the Lord, the great and the splendid one; And it will be, all, whomever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved."    

This Festival day we celebrate Pentecost. On this harvest festival, with Jews gathered from all over the world, God saw fit to undo, for a time, the debacle at Babel when He had confused all languages so that men could no longer communicate their wrong notions with each other. Now, it was God's turn to speak to the people, so He provided a new miracle which allowed each person to hear the message in their own language. But Pentecost isn't so much about the miracle, as it is the message.

Sadly, the message is sometimes lost in all the pomp and circumstance excitement of the miracle. We find this happening even today in churches with the most modern music, dance, and entertainment which captivates the masses. The style is quite interesting to many, but the substance is often lost. We too fall prey to such temptations whenever we want peppier tunes, more exciting sermons, or more beautiful decor where we worship. Such things are peripheral. The key remains the "message".

Peter directs their attention, not once, but twice to his utterance. For the miracle of the tongues of fire was not for entertainment, but to enable the people to hear the message. And the message is clear: "God is pouring out His Spirit upon all flesh." Everybody, including you and me receives the Holy Spirit! Why? So that He work faith in your heart so that you believe the message Peter is proclaiming! Jesus sends the Spirit to connect you to Him & His message of love from the +: Jesus died for you!

Yet we hear Peter's words, finding ourselves mesmerized by the signs and the wonders, the sun darkened and the moon turned to blood! Such amazing miracles seem so very interesting to us. But we are quick to forget that they are given to us as signs. Signs don't direct our attention to themselves, but point away to something greater. You don't see a  40 miles to Raleigh sign, and stop to stare at it, do you? So why would you focus on the mere signs which point your attention elsewhere?

The signs are for the sake of the prophecy. Prophecy is not given with man's interpretation, but it's simply the proclaiming of God's word. Your pastor is given to preach not what he thinks or wants, but what God says. God gives signs to point you to greater things. You are excited that the moon will turn to blood, so be even more excited that the cup of salvation turns into Jesus' blood for your life and forgiveness this day. For today is the day of the Lord for you, as He feeds you His body and blood!

Still you hear how everybody has the Spirit poured out on them, how young and old, guys and gals, slave and free experience dreams, visions, prophesying. You are tempted to think to yourself, "Wow! If only I could do those things, surely people I know would be really impressed!" So you find yourself drawn to the Spiritual gifts that might manifest in you so that you can be special. But you are no different than those at Babel who tried to make a name for themselves. Repent and seek out a better way...

Instead of trying to make a name for yourself by what you get to do, God focuses you on a far better Name, His! You are given to call upon His name and be saved! Why? Because He already gave you His Own name at your baptism. You were baptized in the name of Father, Son and Holy Ghost to forgive your sins, make you born anew by water and the Spirit, deliver you from death and the devil, and give you everlasting salvation. Named with God's family name, you are now His forevermore.

This Pentecost Day, rejoice in the message of God's everlasting love for you in Christ Jesus! Amen.

Hymns from LSB:
#501 Come Down Oh Love Divine
#497 Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord
#500 Creator Spirit by Whose Aid


No comments: