21 May Feast of Pentecost
May 23, 2021
The story is a familiar one. It was 50 days since the resurrection. 10 days since the Ascension of Jesus to the right hand of the Father and Luke tells us it was during the Feast of Pentecost. The Book of Acts tells us the followers of Jesus were all together in one place. Suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house. They became aware of something like tongues of fire resting on each one of them and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues.
The gift of the Holy Spirit descended upon them with such remarkable power. They were transformed! What was once a confused, disorganized group of followers: cowardly, depressed, wounded and grieving turns into a courageous body of Christian believers. That experience of God in that particular upper room takes the broken hearted, leaderless disciples, who had been looking for a hiding place and transforms them into a powerful witness of the risen Lord! This is the celebration we remember on this Sunday with the outpouring of the Spirit of God. We come to know the Holy Spirit as the Comforter, the Paraclete, the one who came along side of them, transforming these followers into a single body of witnesses. This Pentecost experience in the Upper Room becomes the birth of the Christian Church.
In the Old Testament we read of certain individuals, like Moses, Samson, and David being filled with the Holy Spirit. There were certain individuals who were empowered for certain tasks at certain times in history. But on this day, no longer is the Holy Spirit for just particular individuals, for particular times and places and particular circumstances but from this time on is for all believers.
Jesus told His disciples that he must leave them, but says “not to worry or be afraid” because He is going to ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit, who will be their advocate, their comforter, their helper!
So, we read in our story that it was 9:00 o’clock in the morning and as the disciples sat together, suddenly the room filled with what seemed like a gale of wind from heaven. We don’t know if only the disciples heard the wind, or if it was audible to those around the building. The scripture doesn’t say but we know from the testimony of those who were present there was a tremendous movement of the Spirit of God upon His people with wind and tongues of Fire.
James S. Stewart, who I often quote, writes of this wind that Luke describes:
“To anyone brought up in the Jewish tradition, it was natural, almost inevitable, to compare the Spirit of God with the wind. For in the Hebrew tongue the same term was used for both. The word “ruach” stood in fact for three things: It meant breath, that most imminent part of existence, the breath of life. It also meant the desert wind, tearing violently across the land with primal energy and force. And it meant the Spirit of God, the supernatural power that sweeps across the ages and bursts into History, and takes possession of the lives of men (and women).”
Isn’t that what happened on the day of Pentecost. The Spirit of God burst into history with such a force and power. People wondered what happened to these followers of Christ. Something spectacular, life-changing, world-shaking happened on the day of Pentecost. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could tap into that? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could appropriate that burst of power for our own lives?
The poet William Blake wrote a poem about Pentecost. Part of the poem says:
Unless the eye catches fire, God will not be seen.
Unless the ear catches fire, God will not be heard.
Unless the tongue catches fire, God will not be named.
Unless the Heart catches fire, God will not be loved.
Unless the mind catches fire, God will not be known.
It is a release of God’s power in our lives where we begin to see the fire of the Spirit in our lives.
In West Texas during the Depression. Mr. Ira Yates was like many other ranchers and farmers. He had a lot of land, and a lot of debt. Mr. Yates wasn’t able to make enough on his ranching operation to pay the principal and interest on the mortgage, so he was in danger of losing his ranch. With little money for clothes or food, his family (like many others) had to live on a government subsidy. Day after day, as he grazed his sheep over those rolling West Texas hills, he was no doubt greatly troubled about how he would pay his bills. Then a seismographic crew from an oil company came into the area and told him there might be oil on his land. They asked permission to drill a wildcat well, and he signed a lease contract. At 1,115 feet they struck a huge oil reserve. The first well came in at 80,000 barrels a day. Many subsequent wells were more than twice as large. In fact, 30 years after the discovery, a government test of one of the wells showed it still had the potential flow of 125,000 barrels of oil a day. And Mr. Yates owned it all. The day he purchased the land he had received the oil and mineral rights. Yet, he’d been living on relief. A multimillionaire living in poverty. The problem? He didn’t know the oil was there even though he owned it.
It is fair to say that you and I are a lot like Mr. Yates at times. We are heirs of a vast treasure and yet we live in spiritual poverty. We are entitled to the gifts of the Holy Spirit and his energizing power, and yet we live unaware of our birthright.
Many today believe that the outpouring of the Spirit of God, the release of God’s power in such a dramatic way was just for those Apostolic times; happening just to the early disciples. But we have seen it happen over and over for the last two thousand years. People like the Wesley’s or Jonathan Edwards. In the 1900’s the Sousa Street Revival with the beginning of the Pentecostal churches. In the 1970’s there was an outpouring of God’s Spirit in Anglican churches in North America in remarkable ways. St. Paul’s in Darien, Connecticut was at one time the fastest growing Anglican Church in the United States and St. Luke’s in Seattle where many healing ministries began to take form. More recently Holy Trinity Brompton in England with the ALPHA Course and there have been numerous Anglican Churches in Canada. Churches that are open to the moving of God’s Spirit in their midst.
When we pray for a release of God’s Spirit in our lives, in our Churches, people’s lives are changed; people are healed in supernatural ways; people are delivered from all kinds of addictions and strong holds that keep them tied up in their own kind of prison; and people are brought into the kingdom of God in great numbers.
Wouldn’t it be nice to tap into that power?
Wouldn’t it be nice to appropriate that burst of power into our lives?
Jesus said that he would not leave us orphaned or abandoned but would send the Holy Spirit to come along side of us. The Feast of Pentecost is about such a story where we are able to see the release of God’s power into our lives.
Come, Holy Spirit Come. Come into our lives, Come into our Church and may there be a release of God’s power in our midst!
Rev. Merv Lanctot
Faith grows in the soil of hope