On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia With this action, the American Revolution was launched and a new nation was born. It is ironic that on that very day King George III made this entry in his diary: “Nothing of any importance happened today.”
On the day of Pentecost, in the year A.D. 30, 120 followers of a man named Jesus were gathered together in Jerusalem. Suddenly the Spirit of God filled each one of them and marked them with tongues of fire. On that day the Church was born. But no historian of the time saw anything significant in that event.
Those followers were just a handful of rather ordinary men and women, Yet through these ordinary people God built a Church which has lasted now for over 2,0000 years.
In less than 300 years, that small, insignificant Jewish sect became the official religion of the entire Roman Empire and today the Church of Jesus Christ circles the globe and numbers some one billion members.
How did they do it? What happened to those followers in the year 30 A.D. on the day we call Pentecost? Those followers came in contact with the Christian’s unknown God.
They came in contact with God’s Spirit, or the Holy Spirit. For many Christians the events of Pentecost, the events of God’s spirit coming to this earth is like what King George said on the day the Declaration of Independence was signed, “nothing of any importance happened today.”
Pentecost is a major festival of the church year – just as important as Christmas, just as important as Easter, but for some unknown reason, this festival in the church year goes by almost unnoticed. Why is that? Maybe the Holy Spirit is our Unknown God, also.
Maybe because we have a difficult time getting a handle on the Spirit of God. Maybe, we don’t understand what exactly happened on this day. And maybe, talk about the Spirit is not so enthralling as talk about a baby born in a manager, angels singing in the heavens, gifts being passed about and shepherds tending their sheep on quiet hillsides.
But, this festival, this holiday is very important for the life of the church, for your life and my life.
The Spirit of God is not something we should fear, nor something we should ignore, but the Holy Spirit is God’s presence in this world.
It is the same presence that was moving over the face of the earth when God created this world in which we live. It is that same presence that took the form of a baby born in a manager in Bethlehem, it is the same spirit of God that walked the earth for 33 years, teaching, healing, proclaiming the love of God for all people. And now, today, it is that same spirit that is with us, it is God’s spirit alive and well on this earth, working through his people, the church, to bring his love into the brokenness of this world.
It is this Spirit that comes into our lives, into the church to allow us to spread God’s message of love to all people. It is this Spirit which points not to itself, but to Christ. It is this Spirit which allows us to point not to ourselves, but to Christ. It is this Spirit which makes the church, the Body of Christ, the most unique organization on the face of the earth.
We are part of a global enterprise. We have branches in every country in the world. We have our representatives in nearly every parliament and board room on earth. We’re into motivation and behaviour alteration.
We run homeless shelters and orphanages, publishing houses, and nursing homes. We care for our clients from birth to death.
We perform spiritual heart transplants. Our original Organizer owns all the real estate on earth plus an assortment of galaxies and constellations. He knows everything and lives everywhere. Our product is free for the asking. (There’s not enough money to buy it.)
The church is the most amazing organization in the world! And we are part of it, not because we did anything, but the Holy Spirit calls us by the Gospel, enlightens us with His gifts, makes us holy and keeps us in the true faith