In May we celebrate one of the major festivals in the Church Year, Pentecost. This important day often slips under the radar. You don’t buy Pentecost gifts or get a new Pentecost outfit. Silently the day arrives – often seeming like any other Sunday of the year.
Perhaps Pentecost is unnoticed because the Holy Spirit, who is true God and a member of the Trinity, does his work silently. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit worked through the disciples. There were outward signs of his presence. But the real work happened, not by pointing to the Holy Spirit, but by pointing to Jesus Christ. Peter’s sermon started with a reading from the prophet Joel. His next words were:
“Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” (Acts 2:22–24 NIV 1984)
When the Holy Spirit is at work, we hear the message of the good news about Jesus. On Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was actively working to create new believers, the sermon was about Jesus, not about the Holy Spirit.
People get confused about the Holy Spirit when they try to separate him from the message of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is not an “independent contractor” who goes out on his own. His work is always tied to faith in Jesus Christ.
You already have the greatest gift the Holy Spirit gives – faith in Jesus. This gift was given on Pentecost and continues to be showered on the world through the work of the Christian Church. We at Good Shepherd’s Lutheran Church are a “distribution center” for the Spirit. Through the proclamation of the gospel in Word and Sacrament, the Spirit does his work in our hearts and in the hearts of unbelievers who come to know Jesus as their Savior.
You may not get a special outfit for Pentecost and you may not buy gifts to put under your Pentecost tree, but Pentecost is an important celebration. On May 23, we will celebrate the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. His special work changes lives and gives eternal hope. The day will not pass silently, but will be a day to praise our saving God for his work in our lives.
Pastor Tim Wempner
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