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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Saturday Sermonette--A Week of Weeks


For most people on this earth, Pentacost Sunday is just another day. There aren't any parades or fireworks. No speeches made by mayors, governors, or the President. If anyone thinks of it at all, they might think of it maybe as a Jewish holiday or the birthday of the Christian church.

What was the origination of Pentacost? Originally, it was a Jewish holy day--or days--forty-nine to fifty days after Passover (a week of weeks). Passover commemorated the liberation of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. Pentacost--also called Shavu'ot--has a dual purpose. First and foremost, it celebrates the giving of the Torah. Moses brought down the tablets with the ten commandments on this day. Pentacost also is the Festival of First Fruits, the time when the Jews brought the first fruits of the growing season to the priests at the temple for a sacrifice.

With the Christian church, Pentacost is celebrated on the seventh Sunday after Resurrection Day, or Easter, because this is the day that the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples.

Picture yourself as one of the people gathered in that upper room (possibly the same one that held the last supper). We don't really know what the gathering was for--maybe they were gathering just for prayer, maybe that's where they were staying. The Bible says they were all in one room and of one accord when something amazing happened.

The sound of a mighty wind (think tornado or hurricane) filled the room. What could have struck the believers with terror all by itself, but then what looked like little flames--presumably without heat--were seen over the tops of everyone's head. Then, without orchestration or instruction or expectation, all of them began speaking in other languages.

Shavu'ot was a time when many pilgrims as could would attend the festival in Jerusalem. There were Jews and merchants there from all over the known world. Suddenly they began hearing the people in the upper room (probably an open rooftop) speaking in their own languages.

If you have ever experienced your own Pentacost, you know how joyous you feel. You would have been shouting out in your new language, knowing your were speaking to and about God, but not knowing what you were saying. All you really know is that you are so full of the Lord that you experience the highest joy you've ever felt. Can you help but shout it from the rooftop?

And so it began. The Good News spread from that rooftop to three thousand people who heard them on that first day. Those people carried the Gospel back to their countries. Those hearers told other listeners. Christianity caught fire.

What will it take to set you on fire?