Monday, May 21, 2012

The Church Year and the Lectionary Commentary – Pentecost Sunday (Day 1)


Acts 2:1-21

2 When Pentecost Day arrived, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound from heaven like the howling of a fierce wind filled the entire house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be individual flames of fire alighting on each one of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak.
There were pious Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. When they heard this sound, a crowd gathered. They were mystified because everyone heard them speaking in their native languages. They were surprised and amazed, saying, “Look, aren’t all the people who are speaking Galileans, every one of them? How then can each of us hear them speaking in our native language? Parthians, Medes, and Elamites; as well as residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the regions of Libya bordering Cyrene; and visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism), 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the mighty works of God in our own languages!” 12 They were all surprised and bewildered. Some asked each other, “What does this mean?” 13 Others jeered at them, saying, “They’re full of new wine!”
14 Peter stood with the other eleven apostles. He raised his voice and declared, “Judeans and everyone living in Jerusalem! Know this! Listen carefully to my words! 15 These people aren’t drunk, as you suspect; after all, it’s only nine o’clock in the morning! 16 Rather, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
17 In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
    Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
    Your young will see visions.
    Your elders will dream dreams.
18     Even upon my servants, men and women,
        I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
        and they will prophesy.
19 I will cause wonders to occur in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
        blood and fire and a cloud of smoke.
20 The sun will be changed into darkness,
    and the moon will be changed into blood,
        before the great and spectacular day of the Lord comes.
21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Peter here identifies the great events on Pentecost as fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy of the outpouring of the Spirit “in the last days.”  In other words, this event is part of a story that continues to unfold in the life of these early Christians.  But this chapter of the story is the last one, save the culmination and consummation of all things. 

This chapter, the last but one, is the part of the story we live in today.  We are a Spirit-born, Spirit-baptized, Spirit-filled people.  The Spirit has been at work since the moment of creation on, but in “the last days” the Spirit’s profile “goes public” in a way in did not earlier in the Story.

The wonderful hymn, “Spirit” (No.319 in The Presbyterian Hymnal) beautifully captures the work of the Spirit in God’s Story with humanity.  It climaxes in the fourth verse by echoing Joel’s words and identifying the Spirit as the one who brings God’s good future to bear on the present life of God’s people and world.

The Nicene Creed names the Spirit as “the Lord and Giver of Life.”  This is nowhere more evident than on the day of Pentecost!

“Spirit”

Spirit, spirit of gentleness.
Blow through the wilderness, calling and free.
Spirit, spirit of restlessness. Stir me from placidness.
Wind, wind on the sea.

1. You moved on the waters, You called to the deep,
Then You coaxed up the mountains. From the valley of sleep,
And over the eons You called to each thing,
"A wake from your slumbers and rise on your wings."

2. You swept through the dessert, You stung with the sand,
And You gifted your people With a law and a land,
And when they were blinded With their idols and lies,
Then You spoke through Your prophets To open their eyes.

3. You sang in a stable, You cried from a hill,
Then You whispered in silence When the whole world was still,
And down in the city You called once again
When You blew through Your people On the rush of the wind.

4. You call from tomorrow, You break ancient schemes,
From the bondage of sorrow The captives dream dreams;
Our women see visions, Our men clear their eyes.
With bold new decisions Your people arise. 


No comments:

Post a Comment