Acts 2:1-21 â€“ Pentecost Sunday â€“ for May 27, 2012
â€œAll were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, â€˜What does this mean?â€™â€
In the meal of ministry, I received leftovers at the first church I served. I was the associate pastor.
Did I preach at Christmas? No, the senior pastor did (though Iâ€™d often get the Sunday after Christmas when my â€œbossâ€ headed outtatown). What about the first Sunday of Lent or Easter? No and no. How â€˜bout that moveable Sunday in late August or early September when school started and folks scurried back to church? Nope . . . never on that Sunday.
In those early, youthful halcyon years (Iâ€™ve so desired to sneak halcyon into a sentence), there was only one special time of the church yearâ€”of the holy ride from Christmas preparation through Easter glory until Advent loomed againâ€”when I was guaranteed to stand at or near the pulpit:Â Pentecost Sunday.
Okay, fine, Pentecost typically blazes in on a Sunday in late May or early June. In other words, like a spring storm, it swirls across the calendar when school ends and Memorial Day barbeques are creating a haze of smoke in the â€˜burbs. Itâ€™s a kind of leftover Sunday. And yet, in the peculiar church pantheon of super-duper days, Pentecost at least gets ranked in the top ten. Letâ€™s say:
- Easter Sunday
- Christmas Eve/Day
- Moveable Sunday in late Aug/Sept
- First Sunday of Lent
- Pledge Sunday
- Super Bowl Sunday
- Good Friday
- Maundy Thursday
- Senior Pastorâ€™s Birthday*
You can re-jigger my list or make your own. But for several formative years, my associate pastor list bumped Pentecost up to the top.
I know Pentecost.
Iâ€™ve heard many a layperson stumble on the names of places where â€œoutsidersâ€ heard their language spoken. Oh, for the pleasure of pronouncing Cappadocia or Pamphylia to a congregation of your peers. As the congregants repressed giggles, how grateful they are not to be you while you weave through Pentecostâ€™s scriptural landmines.
Iâ€™ve seen many smiles from pew-dwellers when the disciple Peter declared, in the oh-so-serious Pentecost verses, that those filled with Godâ€™s Spirit shouldnâ€™t be called drunkards. After all, â€œit is only nine oâ€™clock in the morning.â€ Bingo! Which is to say, Jesusâ€™ followers might get bamboozled with new wine in old wineskins at noon or by nightfall, but theyâ€™d never hit the sauce this early!
Then thereâ€™s the prophet Joelâ€™s prediction of â€œblood, and fire, and smoky mist.â€ Those words donâ€™t predict whatâ€™ll happen at the picnic later on Sunday afternoon when you grill burgers . . . they were gloom and doom warnings. Nothing like the apocalypse to get minds wandering out in the pews. Instead of hearing how some will be saved and others punished, itâ€™s better to muse if todayâ€™s a good day to wash the car or fix that broken sprinkler in the back yard. Continue reading →