Pentecost Sunday 2013

I’m telling our people to wear red this Sunday. It’s not quite the same emphasis as “get your red on” for the Springfield Cardinals but the end result mind be very similar. The color is a way of remembering the “tongues of fire” that rested on each of the believers’ heads (Acts 2).

Jesus had already assured them they would “receive power, when the Holy Spirit comes upon you” which would enable them to be witnesses beginning close to home in Jerusalem and then spreading out with those concentric circles to the outer limits of the known world. That was quite a challenge. And it still is.

Amy Butler wrote a wonderful open letter to persons who are “spiritual but not religious (SBNR).” She talks about how often and how much the institutional church has lamented the loss of persons who are no longer interested in participating, and how often the conversation shifts to what can the church “do” to change this reality. Her contention is that this discussion has been a predominant one for a while, and that perhaps it is better to shift the emphasis from the church doing something to the church “being” something.

From its inception, the church as a body of believers has been called out to bear witness to the truth of Jesus Christ. This involves his accomplished death, burial and resurrection, and making sure the message of salvation is presented not only in deeds but words too. The Great Commission comes to mind. One of the great challenges I believe the church is facing is a changing culture and the realization that some forms and methods are not as effective as they used to be. However, I am also of the opinion (similar to Amy’s) that the church will become a minority in our society by virtue of our message. We still live in the Bible belt, as there are church buildings are every corner. So, in that regard you might say the spread of the gospel has been “successful.” Sadly, however, many millennials do not find comfort in models of ministry that were once used decades ago and have made that clear. With that in mind, we ought to accept that and find meaningful ways to express our faith that our consistent with the story of Christ. This won’t appeal to everyone.

My focal point this week in particular will not be on what I can do but rather what the Holy Spirit continues to do and what He enables the church to do in our community and world. There is a dynamic quality to life in Christ that should be evidenced by the people of God, not only as we gather for worship and study but also as we scatter to be salt and light to our culture.

The coming of the Holy Spirit gives us power to share our faith and live out our faith in a changing, challenging context. I’m constantly being reminded of my need for prayer and dependence upon the Holy Spirit to bring about the change in a person’s life. I’m grateful that spiritual formation is an ongoing process and that the Lord never gives up on his people.  Without the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, the church would be just another organization that does (hopefully most of the time) good things. He gives the church what we need to carry out our mission in the world.

The church in 2013 won’t be like the church fifty years ago, and that’s not all bad. We need to be more mindful of our role in the Kingdom and how the Holy Spirit fills us and gives us the means to point people to Christ. I pray that seeing people come to Christ and have meaningful change occur in their lives never becomes routine to the church. And we “walk in the Spirit” and trust Him with the results of our obedience.

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