Rev. Danielle K Bartz June 5, 2022
Acts 2:1-17 “Our Story”
There is something that has always bothered me about the Pentecost story, and it is this – in a story that has an unusual amount of detail, compared to other stories in the scripture anyway, I think a really important detail has been left out: we don’t know what they were talking about. When the power of the Holy Spirit fills the disciples and they begin to talk in such a way that everyone understands them, no matter what language they spoke, it is not recorded what they talked about. And that has always bothered me. Because, even though we don’t know what they talked about it, we know it had an impact. A few verses later we will learn that thousands of people “welcomed the message…were baptized…They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:41-42).
It is not recorded what they said during the miracle of Pentecost, but we can make guesses. In Jesus’ final instruction to the disciples, he told them to be witnesses to what they had seen and what they had learned. They were to be witnesses to the Gospel, the Good News – the assurance of God’s presence and the promise of resurrection. So, perhaps that is what they were talking about. They were telling the story of Jesus. But what particular story did they tell, what story was so compelling that the people decided it was a story they wanted to become a part of, a story they wanted to make their own, a story that they wanted to tell others?
I like to think it was the story of Jesus healing the sick, and therefore welcoming them fully into the community. That is the story of Jesus I like to tell and I work hard to tell it in a way that everyone can understand. Perhaps for you, you like to think it was the story of Jesus feeding thousands of people, a reminder that God has provided us an abundant world if we are willing to share freely. Or maybe it is the story of Jesus telling Peter to lower his sword in the Garden, a reminder that violence does not solve violence and weapons are not the way of God. And for some, especially on a day like today, it is the story of Jesus welcoming the little children that is a favorite.
And maybe that is why it is not recorded what the disciples spoke of while filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Because there is something compelling in the story of Jesus, his ministry and message, and what is compelling is different for everybody. There are the stories we gravitate towards, the lessons that fill us with wonder, the reminders of grace that pop into our minds at unexpected times. For each of us, it is different – which is one of the greatest miracles of our faith. We are not expected to tell the same story, in the same way. We are not expected to understand or believe it all. We are not expected to be here for the same reasons, to give the same answers, or to think, act, or talk the same. The Christian story, the faith laid down by our ancestors, the beliefs that are still evolving today – all of it is too big to be contained by any human imagination or explanation.
Today is a tremendous day of celebration. We are celebrating the beginning of the Christian church. We are celebrating the future of the faith with Emery. We are celebrating the wideness and welcome of our beliefs with Holy Communion. And maybe that is the story we are so compelled by. In a world too filled with pain, suffering, anger, and fear – we remember and live into reality our core identity as Easter people. People of life and resurrection. A people who know the worst thing is never the last thing. A people, not removed from the world, but a so committed to it we keep telling our story and inviting people to join us.
Jesus’ final lesson to his followers was to be use the power of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses to the world God would choose for us, and in that witness make that world real for everyone. What story do you imagine the disciples told during the Pentecost miracle that filled the hearts and spirits of thousands so much so they wanted to become a part of it? What story are you telling those around you looking for something to anchor their hope to in today’s world? What story will Emery tell, and what role will we play in it? No one can answer those questions for you except you and God – which is a beautiful and powerful thing. But, I hope somewhere in that story you will talk about today. A day of life and celebration and resurrection. Amen.
God of yesterday, today, and tomorrow – you have gifted us with your presence in the power of the Holy Spirit. That presence blows through our lives in unexpected ways and lights our hearts on fire. We give great thanks for the power of that presence and it is in this spirit of gratitude that we come to you in prayer.
Today we are thankful for the long and ever-evolving church we find ourselves drawn to. On this day when we remember its origins with the Pentecost miracle and celebrate its future with the baptism of Emery, we are reminded that we are part of a long and glorious story – one filled with your miracles, your hopes, and your promises.
God, even as celebrate all of this, there are always many cares and worries that we have with us. We know too well the pain of this world and the losses that linger in our hearts. We turn to you now seeking comfort and assurance, and know you are with us in our suffering. In these few moments of silence we open ourselves up to you and trust everything we carry to you…
Good and loving God, we thank you for easing our burden, convicting us to be who you would call us to be, and walking alongside us in whatever may come. We pray all of this in the name of Jesus Christ, whose lessons and ministry continue to live today through us. And we pray in the way he taught by raising our voices together…Our Father…