On the Christian liturgical calendar this Sunday, the global church will celebrate the Day of Pentecost.
The Day of Pentecost can be found in the book of Acts (2:1-21) when the Holy Spirit swept into the lives of Jesus’ disciples, empowering them with the courage to proclaim the good news without fear.
As I prepare to preach at First Congregational Church of Norman, UCC this Sunday, I could not help but ask the question, “Are we currently witnessing a modern-day Pentecost?”
No, it is not happening over one moment on one day, but it seems the church might be awakening to another movement focused on love and justice.
While the conservative evangelical church’s focus on theology and morality has dominated much of the media coverage over the last several decades, there has been another movement bubbling to the surface as of late.
It’s a movement based on taking the life and teachings of Jesus seriously. It is a movement advocating for radical, inclusive love and social justice for all. More than in any recent moment, prophetic voices are rising up to point out exclusionary behaviors and unjust actions.
It feels like the day of Pentecost when the disciples emerged from the shadows to proclaim the gospel with boldness.
At the conclusion of Luke, we found the disciples behind a locked door. When Jesus appeared to them after the resurrection, they were holed up, really not knowing what to expect.
After Jesus’ crucifixion, they were frightened that they too might suffer the same fate. Rome could be brutal, especially when it wanted to crush a potential uprising. Therefore, it was logical for them to fear what might happen.
However, something changes in the book of Acts. The disciples are transformed from a worried and frightened lot to courageous proclaimers of the gospel.
Luke, author of both the Gospel of Luke and Acts, describes the scene, “And suddenly from heaven, there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:2).
He goes on to report the words of Peter: “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. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy” (2:17-18).
At Good Faith Media, we are witnessing these words come true.
Jesus followers are rising up, speaking out and stepping forward to declare a fresh new perspective on the good news. It’s no longer marred with the fire and brimstone of centuries past but promotes a “heaven on earth” theology as Jesus instructed (Matthew 6:10).
Henry Nouwen wrote, “Without Pentecost, the Christ-event – the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus – remains imprisoned in history as something to remember, think about and reflect on. The Spirit of Jesus comes to dwell within us so that we can become living Christs here and now.”
Nouwen is right. We must let the reverberations of that first Pentecost echo in our minds and hearts today.
While disciples are students of the biblical past, we should not be stuck in it. We need to listen to the Holy Spirit today, opening our minds and hearts to her direction.
Good Faith Media is helping amplify those voices through our multiple media platforms. Modern-day prophets – young and old – are calling out for the inclusive love of all God’s children.
They are demanding equal treatment for women in the church and culture.
They are reminding us that we are called to welcome immigrants and care for their needs.
They are advocating for racial justice by marching and protesting in the streets.
They are calling out Christian Nationalism as heresy by standing strong for the separation of church and state.
They are exposing America’s worship of guns over the well-being of the living.
They are revealing and working to address the widening economic gap between the rich and everyone else.
Are we experiencing a new Pentecost today? I sure hope so.
Pope Francis, writing in his book, Encountering Truth, offered, “The Holy Spirit bothers us. Because he moves us, he makes us walk, he pushes the church to go forward.”
Yet, the pontiff also admits in the same paragraph, “It’s so much nicer to be comfortable.”
This new day of Pentecost is pushing the church forward into an uncomfortable future but a future worth striving toward. The Holy Spirit is once again rushing into the lives and voices of emerging prophets like a mighty burst of wind.
We would be wise to listen to their words and heed their advice, as the Holy Spirit once again takes a frightened group of disciples into a bold future.
CEO of Good Faith Media.