"Filled with the Spirit"
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
In 1990 Germany was the place to be. The Berlin Wall fell in the Fall of 1989. Germany won the World Cup. People were celebrating for all kinds of reasons. The morning after Germany won the World Cup people were wrapping up their celebrations. There were broken bottles on the streets and what seemed to be only a block away was a group of men trying to sing their favorite American songs of years gone by...only you could tell by their laughter, slurring of words, off pitch, and forgetfulness of the tune and many words...that they had celebrated a little too much.
Pentecost Day...thee Pentecost Day...was a great time to be in Jerusalem. God fearing Jews and Gentile converts had made their pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover and stayed for the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Harvest. Others were living in Jerusalem. This time of celebration was different from all other years. These celebrations took place at the exact time that the Messiah was crucified and risen from the dead. Everything was different! Strange things were occurring that had never happened before and will never happen again.
"When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” (Acts 2:1-12)
All of the sudden there was a loud noise...and these men started speaking in foreign languages. Each Jew...even those foreign born...and the Gentiles heard the Disciples speak in their own native language. It was amazing. How could this be...for the Disciples were Galileans. קם האדון, Ο Κύριος ανέστη, Domini resuscitati, ΠιχρίςΤος αϥτωΝϥ! (The Lord is Risen! Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Coptic)
The Disciples spoke in the language of the people gathered...and the gathered people understood. Each and every word. It was shocking. But others only mocked. "But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.” (Acts 2:13) Those that mocked the Disciples didn't care about the message they were hearing or the reason the Disciples were proclaiming it. So what...they are speaking in foreign languages... big deal... they probably partied too hard the night before...they had too much to drink. But unlike the Germans I heard back in 1990... the Disciples weren't slurring. They weren't forgetting words. They were not mispronouncing, and they were not rabble rousing!
"But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’" (Acts 2:14-21)
They weren't drunk. They weren't there to cause a ruckus. They weren't just blabbing on and on about something unimportant. No. What was taking place was the fulfillment of prophecy in their hearing. What was taking place was important. It was the exact moment that Christ sent the Holy Spirit to the Disciples. And the message the Holy Spirit proclaimed through the prophet Joel and the Disciples was of vital importance then and now!
"In those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day." (Acts 2:18b-20)
These wonders and signs are warnings to God's people. Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. Wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tragedy will occur. The sun will cease to shine and the moon will look like blood. All these things shall happen before the Day of the Lord...The Day our Lord returns.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ. We have seen signs pointing to the End of Days. We have seen bloodshed, and war, tragedy, heartbreak, and disasters. Christianity itself is under attack. Sin is looked as being good and good is seen as being evil. Abortion, homosexuality, perversion, sexual immorality, pornography, evolution, stealing, greed, being covetous, and all kinds of sin are seen as being normal and good. And those that call them sin, those faithful to God's Word, are called hypocrites, bigots, homophobic, hateful, fear mongering, out of touch, ignorant people.
It is not going to be easy to keep the faith. As Cardinal George stated before his death: "I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square."
But Pentecost isn't just about warning. Pentecost is about the gift of the Holy Spirit and the proclamation of the Gospel to all people. Pentecost is all about the message that Christ Jesus died to save sinners. Pentecost is all about the message that the Lord is Risen indeed. Pentecost is all about the wonderful news that the prophet Joel proclaimed: "And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Acts 2:21)
Don't let this world get you down. Satan has been defeated. The battle has been won. This world may be filled with trouble, tempest, tragedy, heartache, sickness, and death...but Christ has overcome the world. He has risen indeed. Life has been won...and it is yours now and for eternity with Him. Amen.
Now may the peace of God which passes all human understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. Amen.