This Sunday is Pentecost, and it’s time to celebrate! Pentecost always occurs seven Sundays after Easter. It’s an annual uplifting of the story described in the New Testament book of Acts, chapter 2:1-21.
Acts is part two of the Gospel of Luke; the two books have the same author. By Acts, chapter 2, Jesus had ascended and his followers were hanging out together in Jerusalem. Then the Holy Spirit rushed in, leaving a flame of fire above everybody and stirring up all kinds of amazement.
Suddenly the followers of Jesus had the ability to use a multitude of languages to describe the good news of his life, death and resurrection. The message spread far and wide.
This weekend’s Pentecost party is not only a celebration of Acts, chapter 2. It’s also an opportunity to rejoice in and retell the whole story of God’s Spirit.
Sometimes we assume the Spirit only arrived after Jesus ascended into heaven, but there’s ample evidence in the Bible that the Spirit has been around much longer than that. Grab your Bible and turn with me to the beginning of the book. Genesis chapter 1.
Let’s read Genesis 1:1 and 1-2 together: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters" (NIV translation).
Awesome, right? The Spirit of God is woven into the Bible from its very first verses.
So, in addition to being part of the creative force behind everything, what are the Spirit’s other preferred activities? Exploring different Spirit references in the Bible is a way to celebrate Pentecost, and it also helps us become more equipped to recognize the Spirit when we encounter it in life today.
The Spirit in the Old Testament
• Isaiah 11 — God’s Spirit is the force that provides wisdom, counsel, understanding and might (some of these verses show up in the order of baptism in many Christian traditions).
Spirit in the New Testament
• John 3:8 – Jesus describes that the Spirit blows wherever it pleases.
• John 14:26 – The Spirit is a comforter and teacher.
• John 16:7 – The Spirit is an advocate who intercedes for us.
• Galatians 5:23 – The Spirit is the inspirational force behind expressions of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
The Spirit has been around since the beginning. The winds have been blowing and continue to blow in our homes, workplaces, and families of faith.
This weekend, Pentecost give us a chance to celebrate the mystical, surprising nature of God’s Spirit. But the festivities need not end on Sunday. The Holy Spirit is writing new stories every day. The rejoicing continues.
Are we ready to participate and be amazed?