May 30, 2012

thoughts about Pentecost Sunday

Pentecost Sunday was last weekend for Western Churches (It will be on June 3rd for the Eastern Churches).  Many Christians don't even mark Pentecost as part of the Church calendar; ironically many Pentecostals don't even know when their namesake is!

Those who claim to care less about the Church calendar won't make that claim at Christmas or Easter.  Dates have always been important for Jews and Christians and Pentecost was, after Easter, the most important day to commemorate for the Early Christians.

Many Christians today argue over the significance and modern relevance of the day of Pentecost.  Evangelicals are far more concerned about being "born again" and focus their attention largely upon the work of the Holy Spirit in the initial conversion experience of the believer.  In other words their primary interest in the Holy Spirit's work has been soteriological.  Pentecostals have been known to focus their attention upon a "second blessing" which they believe is evidenced by speaking in tongues.

Sadly, in the midst of all the disagreements, the real purpose and meaning of Pentecost is often lost.  Pentecost was about POWER.  They were in instructed in Luke 24 and Acts 1 to wait until they "received power" - I like the Luke description, it says "clothed with power".

For the first time in the history of God's people, the Holy Spirit was going to be given to ALL believers, male and female, regardless of age or race.  It wasn't going to be temporary or seasonal as it was in the Old Testament.  It was going to be a permanent indwelling, empowering presence.

The Evangelicals have been wrong to over-emphasize the Holy Spirit's work at conversion to their neglecting His work of empowerment for service.  Pentecostals have been wrong to over-emphasize the gift of tongues often losing sight of Pentecost's primary intention, POWER.

The funniest part of the whole thing is that the Churches that seem to make the biggest deal out of Pentecost in their liturgical calendars, changing their clerical vestments and church colors to reflect the change in seasons, are the least expectant of all that Pentecost is to lead to powerful encounters with the Holy Spirit.  All of the symbols, but seemingly little of the substance.

So for this past Pentecost Sunday, our vision was to position ourselves to receive and manifest POWER - to see miracles and to ensure that each and every believer present who wanted to be empowered, was in fact empowered.  We saw many prophetic words released (also a major Biblical component of Pentecost in Acts 2 - "dream and visions"), we saw many healed and others had powerful infilling encounters with the Holy Spirit.  Did some speak in tongues?  Maybe, I wasn't paying attention.  I was more concerned that we were faithfully expecting what the Bible promises at Pentecost - POWER.