Pentecost Message

Reflecting on Pentecost and Beyond

 

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Dear Friends,

            The Festival of Pentecost (this year celebrated on May 24th) marks a time of transition and change in the life of the church. We hear that 10 days after the Ascension of our Lord the disciples were gathered together, there was a sound like a mighty wind that filled the room, and the followers of Jesus were filled with the Holy Spirit, and something like ‘tongues of fire’ blazed over their heads. This miraculous event then pushed the disciples into the streets and they began testifying that Jesus Christ was Lord. As they spoke, people could hear regardless of the language they spoke – God made the way for all people to hear the story of Jesus.

            This was the birthday of the church. Pentecost was the place and moment where Jesus Christ sent the Spirit to gather, lead, empower, and then send this new church out into the world to proclaim the good news of Jesus and to share with this world Christ’s love. We can imagine that for all those the Spirit filled with power that day, and for all who witnessed that miracle and first heard that Jesus Christ is Lord, it was a glorious morning.

            Pentecost was the initial breaking out, pouring out, that exploding out of the Holy Spirit in this world. As we read on in the book of Acts we see that the Spirit continued to work through Peter, Paul, and all the Apostles. I believe we see this great number of miracles in the early church, because the Spirit was trying to get the world’s attention. The Apostles received great power, and performed mighty acts, because that pointed to the power and Lordship of our Savior Jesus Christ.

            That same Holy Spirit is still alive, moving, and shaping this world. The fact that you and I can be called Christian is because the power of the Holy Spirit called us to the waters of Baptism, poured out on us the life of Jesus Christ, and leads and guides us (as the Spirit leads, guides, and calls the whole Christian church) to the life with Jesus.

            We don’t always see the great and powerful miracles of the Spirit like they saw in those first days. Because it is a different time now. Miracles still happen because the Spirit is here. God is at work. More often, we meet God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in the quiet and constant presence of our Lord who is continually leading and guiding us. God brings us together, holds us as a community, feeds us with the body and blood of Jesus, and sends us out to serve this world. The same thing is still going on there is just a little less fire these days.

            But we do see the Spirit alive and active with us and through us in the Allegheny Synod. We are the ‘small but mighty’ Synod that continues to reach out to our neighbors and our world. Let me remind you that the Spirit spoke to your hearts to help feed our neighbors and communities. Together, we the Allegheny Synod, gathered 36,617 items for our food banks and food pantries during our 25,000 Can Challenge. You continue to surprise the larger Synods of our church with the way your support Lutheran World Relief, Lutheran Disaster Relief, the Seminaries of the ELCA, and our brothers and sisters in Kenya with your support for the Kenya Motorbike Challenge and your support of the Pangani Lutheran Children’s Center.

            These things, and much more than I can list here, are possible because the Power of God, the Holy Spirit is loose in these Allegheny hills and valleys. The Spirit is what grabs and guides us to share the love of Jesus. We do that in word and deed. We open our lives to our neighbor and share with those who are in need.

            It is also the Holy Spirit that calls us together to be the Allegheny Synod. The Synod is us. We are this group of disciple called together as Jesus’ team for ministry in these Allegheny hills and valleys. God doesn’t make mistakes and God chose you and me. God, through the power of the Spirit, called you into your congregation to be strengthened to go out and share God’s love with this world.

            On the Day of Pentecost, and beyond, we are called to be God’s people. Called together to be the Allegheny Synod for the sake of the world. We have a job to do because Jesus has claimed us. We are led by the Holy Spirit to carry out that task of showing the world the difference that Jesus makes. May we always be led by the Spirit to follow and serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

+ Bishop Michael Rhyne