The Promise of Pentecost

When we gather for Pentecost Sunday we gather to celebrate the coming of the Spirit. Some call it the birthday of the church. On that day the scared, weary, and timid believers became bold, strong, and vocal about the story of Jesus. On that day they received the promise that Jesus had made to “be with us always.”

Two thousand years later we still celebrate this important event in the life of the Christian church. We dress the church in red and remember the coming of the Spirit with tongues of fire, in wind, in the baptized people. We gather around the Lord’s Table and are reminded that time after time at that table we ask for God’s Spirit to be out poured on us so that we can be the body of Christ for the world.

There has been much talk in United Methodist circles about the death of the church. Charts have been drawn, reports have been written, recommendations have been made. The situation at first glance does not look good. Many in the church today are scared, weary and timid. Can we find life again? How can we be fruitful again? Where is life in the midst of this decline?

In our world we have seen the aftermaths of natural disasters and the continued prize of wars being fought. We turn on the television, look at the news on the Internet and see the condition of people around us and wonder what we can do? We ask ourselves if our faith has anything to say? Does our message resonate? Once again we are made silent by mounting struggles in our world today.

Maybe we in the church today are not so different from those disciples in that upper room. We too have walked with Jesus and have been witnesses to the power of God’s kingdom in people’s lives. We too have been sent to be proclaimers of the message of God’s love. We too have gathered around a table and heard the message of Jesus to do what he did, to love the way he loved. Yet, in spite of all that we have witnessed, we are left wondering what to do next in a changing and complex world.

Enter Pentecost with its promise of new life. Maybe we should call on God’s people to gather in prayer and supplication on that day. To ask for the promise, to plead for God’s promised Spirit to come down upon us and give us passion again, make us strong, to give us boldness. Let’s call the church to take seriously the call that we give the Spirit Sunday after Sunday when we gather around the great table and give thanks. The call that the bread that we break and the wine that we pour becomes for us spiritual food, the sanctifying presence of God for the life of the world.

May this Pentecost Sunday be a turning point in the life of our church. Let us be given ears to hear in the languages spoken in the world today, let us see tongues of fire on our brothers and sisters as sign and symbol that in spite of our differences we are one. Most of all may we not fear any longer, nor panic, nor hide, instead let us move with boldness into the unknown, into the surprise that is God.

Come Holy Spirit, Come Holy Spirit!


This post originally appeared June 8, 2011 on the Spanish Portal of umc.org under the title “La Promesa de Pentecostés

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *