Archive for June, 2013

June 1, 2013

Pentecost (June)

A few weeks ago, we celebrated Pentecost, the day that the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus’ followers in the form of tongues of fire.  The Church was born that day.  Pentecost is one of the most important days of the year for Christians.  We baptists have do not have a rich history of celebrating this day as we perhaps should.  If you grew up in a church, think back at how you celebrated Pentecost.  What are ways we can celebrate Pentecost today in a world just as desperate in hearing “the wonders of God (Acts 2:11)” in their own language?

We are going through a sermon series this month on worship.  It is interesting to see in the story of Pentecost found in Acts 2 that the moment the Holy Spirit descends and fills those followers of Jesus, the first thing that happens is worship, declaring the wonders of God.  In fact, throughout Scripture when the Spirit of God appears, worship breaks out inevitably.  Even Jesus reminds us that the Holy Spirit has come to guide us in proper worship.

But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you….  But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.  He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. (John 16:7, 13-14 NIV)

It is a good reminder for us today that if we wish to worship as God called us to worship, we must submit to the Holy Spirit to worship through us.  Our worship, however, may not look like what we are used to.  It may even feel a bit foreign if the Spirit of God is indeed worshiping through us.  I believe the story of Pentecost holds this message too.

When the Spirit descended upon the people, they began declaring the wonders of God.  But the odd quality of this worship was that people from all around the world heard them praising God in their own language!  The Spirit of God is a missionary God, seeking to draw all humanity to Jesus.  When we worship by the Spirit, we discover to a worship that not only directs itself to God but draws others into it along the way.

When I was a missionary to the former Soviet Union, I had to learn this lesson quickly.  I could have tried to “declare the wonders of God” in my own language, but the people would not have understood.  Instead, I had to look continually to the Spirit to speak through me to declare the wonders of God in a way that they understood.

Mount Hermon Baptist Church is not much different.  We live in a foreign land called the United States of America.  It is 2013.  Are we declaring the wonders of God in our own language or in their language?  Let us challenge one another to take the courageous steps by the Holy Spirit to be heard in their language and therefore hear from them, “Truly God is among you (1 Corinthians 14:25)!”

Pastor Rich