The Beginning of the New Life (05/19/13 sermon)

The Beginning of A New Life

Acts 2:1-21
2When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
5Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem.6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.7Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?8And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?9Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,11Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.”12All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”13But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”
14But 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.15Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning.16No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:17‘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.18Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.19And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist.20The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.21Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

I will begin with a funny story.
A family was staying at a motel. The wife had awakened early and started packing the bags and carrying them to the car. Returning from a trip to the auto, she accidentally walked into the wrong room and, seeing a man lying in bed, assumed it was her husband and shouted at the top of her voice, “Get out of that bed!”

Suddenly realizing her mistake, she turned and ran. As she left the room she heard the man saying, “Boy, that sure is some wake-up service.”
Today is Pentecost Sunday. This is exactly the right moment for a wake-up service in our spiritual lives. In today’s passages, we are going to see and to discern how the Holy Spirit works in our lives. I hope that this time would be a wake-up call for each of us.

In Korea, Pentecost is called 성령강림주일. 성령 means the Holy Spirit. 강림 means descent and 주일 means Sunday. I remember that many churches usually have a revival meeting this day. The sounds of praising, prayer, and preaching are filled in many churches. They celebrate Pentecost to the fullness.

It is because they believe that Pentecost is an important day in the Christian year. It is the rightful conclusion to the story of resurrection. This familiar, often-preached story of Pentecost, traces an important transition in the life of the church. The passage marks the transition from a quiet group of people traveling around following a teacher and healer, Jesus Christ, to a visible movement built on memories of that great leader. Pentecost is one of the greatest events in the church history.

We often think that God’s Spirit comes to us in quietness and peace. Sometimes, it comes in peace. But while preparing today’s sermon, I had a chance to enjoy Bach’s presentation of the Holy Spirit in his B-Minor Mass. Through this music, Bach expressed that the Holy Spirit comes with great energy. Bach’s chorus is full of rapid, staccato notes that sweep on toward their climax in powerful sounds. The Holy Spirit comes not only in peace but also with great power, energy, and transforming might from the almighty God of the resurrection. Today’s text proves this understanding.

Let us see today’s text. The followers had gathered in one place. Suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages.

The devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem heard the languages from the followers of Jesus and some of them judged that they were drunk. But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and preached to them. Peter quotes the prophet Joel and establishes a new beginning. Verse 17 says, “In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh. Life will be very different because sons and daughters will prophesy, the young will have visions, and the old will dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit and they shall prophesy.”
Pentecost not only marked the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the newly formed people of faith, but also marked a radical beginning, which changed the whole world. Pentecost is a great wake-up call for our spiritual lives, which encourages and empowers us to begin a new life full of God’s grace and love.

In Peter’s words, we notice that he makes a very important point. Those in a positive relationship to Jesus are in a position to understand properly the present work of God. Some of people could not comprehend the effects of the Holy Spirit on the believers, because they had no knowledge of the promise of the risen Christ that the Spirit would come upon the disciples.

This morning, we are here to celebrate Pentecost. Especially, it is time to celebrate God’s creative power. We just read Pslam 104. It is a hymn celebrating the creative power of God, the power to help us begin a new life, the power to release us from all kinds of fears, darkness, doubts, and the uncertainty we face in the course of our spiritual journey. The power of the Holy Spirit gives us a new vision and a new dream which make our lives more meaningful, powerful, and delightful. The psalmist praises God as follows, “I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to God, as I rejoice in the Lord.” The psalmist was filled with the Holy Spirit and had a new vision and a new dream from God who gave all the creatures what they need at the proper time and who had the almighty power to overcome every challenge.

Today, we are standing in the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is waking us up. The Holy Spirit invites us to come to a new life. In Romans 8: 14-17, Paul declares that Christian life is “life in the Spirit” because we who are led by the Spirit are the Children of God. When we cry out, God is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
Here, Paul is speaking about Christian identity. But he goes on to speak about the significance of such life. Life in the Spirit is much more than an identity, indeed it is a right relationship to God that has come as a gift from God. For now, the distance between humanity and God is overcome as God adopts us as God’s children. Since we are now God’s children, we will be heirs. We are experiencing grace and blessings and there is more to come.

 

Today concludes the celebration of the great fifty days, the time of the church’s period of intense meditation upon the meaning of the Resurrection, Ascension, and empowerment by the Holy Spirit. It is important to remember that Pentecost is not a rupture in the Christian year but it is the consequence of the Resurrection. Jesus makes clear in today’s Gospel lesson that the Advocate is his gift to the church, so that we are not left destitute of the presence of Christ. The resurrection is an ongoing experience in the Church’s life because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst reminding us of all that Christ has said and done.
About 2000 years ago, a new age began at Pentecost. The coming of the Kingdom of God was being prepared that day. Jesus Christ had embodied in his person the powers of that kingdom, and now by the gift of his Spirit to the disciples, that power was spreading through all the world. God was beginning to usher in his final rule over all the earth.

Now, you and I stand at the beginning of the new life within God’s kingdom. You and I have been granted the Holy Spirit to empower us to live a new life and to dream new dreams. God calls us to be the witnesses of God’s new age, that all persons whom God loves, and whom we are to love, may become participants in God’s everlasting kingdom.

Let us begin our new life today. Let us dream new dreams. Today, God wakes up our spirituality and invites us into a new beginning of life within God’s grace and blessing.

Let us pray: Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit. Help and bless us to be empowered by the Holy Spirit so we can begin a new life within God’s blessing. In your name we pray. Amen.

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