This is Memorial Day Weekend. While it was designated as an American federal holiday remembering those who have died in service, over the years it has develop a less noble distinction. Among them is it has become known more as the unofficial kickoff to summer. Therefore, it has become one of the more heavily traveled weekends of the year. Let me take this opportunity to say that my prayers are that you have a Happy and Safe Memorial Day Weekend.
This year Pentecost Sunday, designated as the birthday of the Christian church is celebrated on the Sunday before Memorial Day. The church started with faithful followers of Jesus Christ, who were to declare Jesus message of hope and express His love. Unfortunately, over the nearly millennium since it began, it too has developed a lot less noble distinction. Instead of declaring a consistent message of love, forgiveness and acceptance, the Christian Church has been a bastion of ignorance and intolerance advocating militaristic responses to just about every issue that comes up. Yet, as one who grew up in the church I dearly love the Christian Church because I was blessed to be taught, shown and learned what I think the Christian Church was intended to be.
Since the Christian Church was born on the Day of Pentecost, I think we were all intended to be Pentecostals! Yes, I grew up in a Pentecostal Holiness Church; but NO, I don’t think we were all meant to be “pew-jumping and tongue talking” followers of Jesus Christ. However, I do believe we are all intended to be Spirit led followers of Christ “Offering Hope + Showing Faithfulness + Sharing Joy.”
Erasmus, the famous Renaissance scholar, once told a classic story designed to emphasize how important it is that we take up the torch of Christ’s ministry with great commitment. In the story, Jesus returns to heaven after His time on earth. The angels gather around Him to learn what all happened during His days on earth. Jesus tells them of the miracles, His teachings, His death on the cross, and His resurrection. When He finishes, Michael the Archangel asks Jesus, “But what happens now?” Jesus answers, “I have left behind eleven faithful disciples and a handful of men and women who have faithfully followed Me. They will declare My message and express My love. These faithful people will build My church.” “But,” responds Michael, “What if these people fail? What then is Your other plan?” And Jesus answers, “I have no other plan!”
For me, it’s simple! Being Pentecostal means being a faithful follower of Jesus declaring His message and expressing His Love and Jesus is counting on all of us to do that. But the good news is, we are not alone, we have help. The Holy Spirit is here to melt us, mold us, fill us, and use us. So as we approach this Memorial Day Weekend and Pentecost Sunday, two events that over years have developed less than noble distinctions, maybe we can buck that trend back toward their original meanings. I start with this question “Are You A Pentecostal?”
If you are still in town, join us in worship this Pentecost Sunday. We will be celebrating the birth of the Christian Church and the coming of the Holy Spirit. I will be preaching a sermon that simply asks “Are You A Pentecostal?” The sermon is based on Acts 2:1-8, 11b and John 15:26 & 27; John 16:13.