I remember when my first child, Joshua, was born. It was an emergency cesarean birth, the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck three times and his head was hyperextended and laying on his back. Thank goodness for modern technology, skilled healers, caregivers, and the ability of children to be really really flexible.
Even without all the trauma that first day of life was a life changing moment in my life. Life would never be the same again.
Such is the day the Spirit of God poured out onto the disciples in the upper room and three thousand people came to know salvation that first day (Acts 2:41). Three thousand people were given a new birth in Christ. Three thousand people were reborn and resurrected!
It was a day to remember... a day we still remember two thousand years later. We have made the day into a religious day of celebration about what God did long ago. I wonder, in our desire to celebrate the past, have we neglected what God is doing today. Jesus made an incredible statement during his final farewells to those who followed/follow him in John 16:7 “I assure you that it is better for you that I go away. If I don’t go away, the Companion won’t come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” (CEB)
Think about that statement from Jesus. He says it is better for his disciples, those who follow him, that Jesus leaves because the Holy Spirit (Companion, Counselor, Comforter, Advocate, Empowerer, etc.) will be sent to them/us. It is hard to imagine something better than sitting at the table with Jesus. But, here Jesus clearly says it is for our benefit that Jesus leaves and the Holy Spirit comes. And boy howdy, the Holy Spirit comes upon the disciples in an empowering way! The disciples will receive the Holy Spirit while hiding behind closed doors as the resurrected Jesus breathes on them (John 20:22), but forty days later Jesus, like an infomercial, Jesus tells them to wait there’s more (Luke 24:49).
Then ten days afterwards... Pentecost! A life changer for the disciples and those who heard their message. A life changer for you and I too (Acts 2:39). I was speaking with a couple of members of the church this week and we shared our excitement about God’s heart for the community at St. Paul. One of the people expressed how wonderful the Spirit’s presence is, how empowering, how rich and then the recognition... God desires this closeness for everyone and God’s mercies are rich and new and expansive and limitless, so much so we can never comprehend all that God has for us. God is still active.
God is still present. God is still near.
I am increasingly convinced that God is getting ready to do a new thing at St. Paul. That we together might be a shining light of God’s amazing grace in our community. May you know God’s presence through the Spirit in very real and new ways, this and every day. Amen.