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PROLOGUE TO THE WORD


May 20, 2018

GIFTED WITH AN IDENTITY

Acts 2:1-21
Our passage from Acts tells the story of Pentecost, the “birthday” of the church. Seven weeks after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, many have gathered in Jerusalem for the Jewish festival of Pentecost. Among those gathered are the community of believers, including the disciples and other followers of Jesus. Also gathered are many immigrants – Jews who have assembled in Jerusalem from all over the Roman Empire, each speaking the languages of their native lands. The scripture says that suddenly from heaven there came a sound “like the rush of a violent wind.” The Christians were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages – the immigrant Jews thus heard and understood the words of the Christians each in their own languages. Peter addresses the crowd and quotes the prophet Joel, explaining that this event is the fulfillment of the prophesy that God would pour out God’s spirit upon all flesh. At Babel, all had been divided by their native languages – now, all are united in their ability to hear and understand God’s Word, each in his or her own language.

Romans 8:22-27
In this portion of his letter to the Romans, Paul acknowledges the reality of suffering as the people wait for the promised return of Jesus. In spite of their suffering, however, Paul reminds the people of the presence of the Spirit who “helps us in our weakness.” And Paul encourages the people to hope, for “in hope we were saved.” Paul reminds the people that “hope that is seen is not hope.” Therefore we “hope for what we do not see,” and we “wait for it with patience.”

John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15
The Gospel lesson for this week is a portion of Jesus’ “farewell” address to the disciples. Jesus assures the disciples that even though Jesus himself will soon be physically gone from their presence, the Advocate, or Spirit of Truth, will be there to guide them. The Spirit of Truth will empower the disciples to testify in word and deed to what they have witnessed in the life of Jesus.

Sermon Notes
On this Pentecost Sunday, there is obviously a strong emphasis on the Holy Spirit. In Acts, the Spirit arrives in a rush of violent wind and divided tongues. In the Romans passage, the presence of the Spirit is felt in times of suffering and weakness. And in the Gospel passage, Jesus reminds the disciples that they will not be left on their own, but will be guided by the Spirit. What does the Spirit look like for us in this day and time? We will explore this together.

Shalom, Rev. Lisa Bowersock