The Coming of the Holy Spirit
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.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”
Peter Addresses the Crowd
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
‘In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
Acts 2:1-21 (NRSV)
Children’s Day is a day that we celebrate our children and families here in Oldtown, and it also signifies the last day of Sunday School until next September. But does that mean that we won’t see each other until next September? No! Because we still have church every Sunday, and as always, everyone is welcome to worship. But sometimes during the summer, families go on vacation. Sometimes they go to the beach or to the park or travel to see family or friends. And so, you may not be in worship every Sunday this summer, and that’s okay.
Now, in our scripture reading today, we heard about the story of Pentecost, which is sometimes also called the birthday of the church because it was on Pentecost that the gift of the Holy Spirit came and that the universal Christian church officially began. That was the start of people meeting together to remember and to share the stories of Jesus. On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came to be what they call an advocate, or a helper to the people because they no longer had Jesus there to lead and teach and guide them. And the good news is we still have the Holy Spirit with us today!
But sometimes we get busy doing other things, and we forget about Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Now that doesn’t mean that the Spirit is not with us, because Jesus is always with us in our hearts, but sometimes we just forget. That’s why coming to church on Sundays can be a good reminder for us. It can be a time when we slow down and put our busyness aside and remember just who and whose we are.
Now I’ve been trying to think of a way that we as a congregation can remember that Jesus is with us all the time, especially this summer as we go out and do all kinds of fun things. Even though we might not be in worship every Sunday, because we are on vacation, or at the park, or at the beach, I want you to remember Jesus, and to think about the church, and remember that your church family is always here for you.
By a raise of hands, how many of you have heard of “Flat Stanley” before. Well, for those of you that haven’t, Flat Stanley is a children’s book written by Jeff Brown and it was written to encourage third graders to write letters. The students were given the assignment to write a letter to a friend or family member who lives in a different place, and to mail them the letter and a picture of Flat Stanley. The recipient of the letter was then asked to take a picture of Flat Stanley somewhere and then to send Flat Stanley and the picture of where he had been back to the student. Flat Stanley not only encouraged writing letters and journaling, but it also introduced the students to different places.
This summer, we are going to invite each family to take a Flat Jesus home with them. We are going to encourage you to take your Flat Jesus with you this summer wherever you go; to the beach, or to the park, sitting around the pool, or camping, or just playing in your backyard. We’re going to ask you to take selfie pictures of you and your family and friends with Flat Jesus and email them to us so we can put them on our bulletin board and on our website and on our Facebook page. Flat Jesus actually has his very own email address, so it will be easy to remember. His email address is FlatJesus@Oldtownucc.org. I think it will be fun to see where Flat Jesus goes, and what kinds of fun things he gets to do. It will also help us to remember that Jesus and the Holy Spirit don’t just stay here at church all week, but they are always with us wherever we go. And you just might find that Flat Jesus even gives you the chance to tell someone else about our church or about the stories of Jesus, just like the people did on the first Pentecost so long ago!
So, brothers and sisters in Christ, as you go out into your busy week ahead, and out into your fun-filled summer, bring Flat Jesus with you, remembering that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are always with you. Take lots of pictures, and if you get the chance, tell someone the story about Flat Jesus, or tell them what you love about the Oldtown Church, or about Jesus, remembering that our faith is not just something that we think about on Sundays, but on the contrary, it’s the way we live our lives, each and every day!
My friends, may it be so, thanks be to God! Amen!