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Less Fire and Wind, More Dreams and Visions (Pentecost)

12 Jun

     All 120 disciples all gathered in one place, doing church business. Basically they were holding a congregational meeting in order to fill a vacated council position left open when Judas left. Two names were on the ballot, and they elected Matthias. With business done, they were sitting around drinking coffee. This is where our text picks it up.
     Violent wind filling the whole room, tongues of fire on everyone, people talking but foreign languages were coming out of their mouths. This was causing such a great confusion that the Jews from all over the world who had traveled to Jerusalem for Pentecost festival gathered outside the door to find out what the commotion was about.
     They hear these Jewish disciples of Jesus speaking about God’s work in the world—mighty deeds of power. But they hear all this in their own native languages. Rather than understanding the confusion, they now are added to it.
     “What is going on? What does this mean?” they ask. What’s with the wind and the fire and the languages? Some just thought these disciples had gotten into the sacramental wine a bit early. But clearly everyone was confused about it.
     Peter steps out in front and begins to speak to all of them.
     Why does this surprise you? he asks. OK, we weren’t expecting wind and fire and different languages. But the prophet Joel in our own scriptures talks about this very thing! When God pours out God’s Spirit, Joel says, everyone will prophesy, and vision, and dream. Old, young, male, female, slave, free, new to the faith, lifelong believers. All people.
     That’s what’s going on here today. Do you see it?
     The way it’s happening, Peter says, caught us all off guard, but since it was in your own languages, did you hear what we were actually saying? We were talking about all that God is doing! We were speaking about God’s power, and God’s presence in the world. We were sharing dreams and visions and prophecies.
     As many times as I’ve preached and studied this text in the second chapter of Acts, I’ve never noticed that Peter’s sermon on this amazing day didn’t start out about how the Spirit comes, just that the Spirit would come. We would know it was the Holy Spirit, not by the wind and the fire and the languages, but by the prophecies, the dreams, and the visions. And that these prophecies, dreams, and visions would come through all kinds of people. All ages, all levels of experience with God, all economic backgrounds. To emphasize the fire and the wind and the languages is to miss the point of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is poured out however she’s poured out. But when she moves among us, we have dreams and visions of God at work in the world.
     The problem we have with Pentecost, I think, is that we keep waiting for the wind and fire. And then we’re disappointed when we find we’re still not speaking Malagasy or Farsi. So we figure Pentecost was a one-time event, the Holy Spirit doesn’t work that way anymore, and we quit watching for the Holy Spirit to move.
     What that means is that when the Holy Spirit does move, when Pentecost does happen, when we dream dreams and have visions about God’s power and presence in the world, we ignore them. We discount them so quickly that we don’t give ourselves the chance to see if we might be experiencing Pentecost and the Holy Spirit. We make excuses as to why our dreams and our visions couldn’t really be from God. We’re too young, too old, haven’t been part of the church long enough, been part of the church too long, faith isn’t deep enough, not spiritual enough.
     But the same Holy Spirit that’s described in Acts 2 is the same Holy Spirit among us today. The church that started that first Pentecost day is still the church. With those first disciples, we are followers of the same Jesus, we have been baptized into the same death and resurrection, we are part of the same mission of the same God. Wind and fire and languages aren’t the thing. The thing is dreaming dreams and having visions of God’s work in the world because the Holy Spirit has already been poured out on us.
     What dreams do you dream about what God’s power can do among us? What visions do you have about what God’s work in our world can look like? What do you imagine God’s mission is all about here? Those dreams and visions, that imagination is what the Holy Spirit poured out among us is about. Pentecost is still happening. The Holy Spirit is still moving. Among us. Through you.
     Take a minute to consider your dreams of what God’s power is doing and what God’s presence can do. We want to share those, to proclaim the reality of Pentecost, to acknowledge the Holy Spirit at work, to recognize  Acts 2 as the story of the church—then and now. To inspire others to move with the Spirit dreaming dreams and having visions about where God is moving in the world in this time.
     In the back are four computers set up and open to LCM’s Facebook page. Like the first disciples, we are going to speak about God’s deeds of power to all the world. Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia will hear visions of God’s presence in the world. Visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs, will be amazed at the public outpouring of the Holy Spirit as we dream dreams of God’s mission.
     This is Pentecost. The Spirit has been poured out. We dream dreams.
     #holyspiritnow

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Posted by on June 12, 2014 in Sermon

 

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