An Article by Pastor Bob Speirs
“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven, there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” Acts 2:1-4
On Sunday, June 5th, we will celebrate once again, the “Day of Pentecost,” which many mainline Christians commemorate as the birth of the Church universal. It is a day on which we will hear the story from John 14 (which is part of Jesus’ “Farewell Address” to his disciples), of Jesus’ promise to his disciples that he will not leave them orphaned upon Jesus’ departure, but that the Father would send an “Advocate” to teach and lead his followers in God’s mission, and to remind them of all that Jesus said to them in their time together.
In Acts 2, we will hear the account of the fulfillment of Christ Jesus’ promise of the giving of the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, who will strengthen the faith and the witness of Jesus’ apostles, as they are “sent out” to continue the work of the Gospel that they began with their teacher and Lord. The images that are depicted in this story from Acts 2, of wind and tongues of fire that filled that house where the disciples gathered on that Day of Pentecost, call to mind the creation story of Genesis 1:2, where the wind of God swept over the face of the waters and the holy work of God began. It’s noteworthy that in Hebrew the word for “wind” of God is ruach, pronounced ru-aaach, and can also be translated as the spirit or breath of God. In just saying the word it’s hard not to use a strong sound or breath to pronounce it properly. The same is true for the Greek translation- pneuma, which shares the same meanings. We see that word ruach pop up again in Genesis 2:7, where God gives life to Adam, by “breathing” into his nostrils (which I think is God also giving the first CPR lesson to his people.☺)
When the “divided tongues of fire” rested on each of the disciples, we recall the prophecy of John the Baptist, who in Luke 3:16 (also in Matt. 3:11), told the crowd that he was calling them to repentance and to be baptized, “I baptize you with water, but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” The fact that the Holy Spirit rests on each of the disciples in the form of “tongues” of fire, and not fire alone, tells us that the apostles were to use their tongues, their mouths, and voices to teach and preach, to declare the good news of hope, forgiveness, and salvation in Jesus Christ for the world to hear and embrace in faith.
The image of fire itself goes back to the stories of the Old Testament, in which fire is a symbol of God and God’s presence with his people. In Genesis 15:17-18, God comes to Abram in a vision of a smoking firepot and a flaming torch. It is a passage in which God makes a covenant with Abram to give Abram’s ancestors land in which they would settle and establish for generations. In Exodus 3, the presence of the divine appears to Moses in the burning bush where Moses will receive his call to lead God’s people from slavery in Egypt and into freedom to be God’s people. Later, in Exodus 19, God will again appear to Moses and the Israelites on Mount Sinai, in fire and thunder, and there God gives Moses the Law, the 10 Commandments, to bring to the people, which will establish a covenant between God and the Israelites and give the Israelites an identity and a purpose as God’s chosen.
Pentecost offers us once again a great opportunity to gather together in worship, to celebrate and give thanks for God’s promise kept, and to be assured that we are never alone in our call and ministry to share the good news. Pentecost is a time to remember that we have been blessed and sealed with the power of the Holy Spirit in our baptisms, marked with the cross of Christ forever, and given a purpose, to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ in faith to all people, in our good works and our good works, for the sake of our neighbors, and for the glory of God. Please join us, for a great day of worship, to offer our gratitude and praise for the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and for the mission of the Gospel we share. Peace, Pastor Bob
As many of you know, I joined the Luther Memorial staff last fall as your Associate/Visitation Pastor. I want to take this opportunity to once again thank Pastor Lackey and all of you for the opportunity to serve LMC, in whatever ways I can be of best help. It has been a joy for me to help in worship each Sunday, to occasionally lead the Sunday morning Bible Study when Pastor Nelson is away, and especially to have the privilege of visiting many of our Homebound members, who would love to be with us each week, but for physical and medical reasons simply can’t join us. It’s important to know however that each of those who I visit with and bring Holy Communion to, are with us in spirit, as they ask about, and pray for all of you, and are always interested and eager to hear the latest news of our congregation.
And, just a reminder that we have a group of our church members who serve as Caregivers, who have volunteered to come forward and join our visitation program. I would like to say thank you to Carol Mattes, Denise Lyon, Terris Speirs, Marilyn Kramme, and Kurt Rasmussen for their time and efforts, and especially to Barbara Boosinger, who is leading us in a time of Continuing Education, using the Stephen Ministry principles to teach the class. We meet on the 4th Sunday of each month, after worship, for these sessions, which provide an opportunity to learn, ask questions, reflect on our visits, and be supported in the ministry in which we’re engaged. If you have interest in being a Caregiver and joining this great ministry team, please feel free to contact me at church, in person, by phone at 515-442-0869, or by email: [email protected]. Pastor Bob