Acts 2:1-21 Pentecost

Acts 2:1-21 Pentecost


Tedd Pullano

Ogden 06-04-2017

Acts 2:1-21 – Pentecost

Today is Pentecost. Typically, this is the day we celebrate the “birthday of the Church.” That has normally been my theme over the years preaching on Pentecost. But as I worked through this passage, and this day, during the week, I felt another theme was in here. That theme is the coming of the Holy Spirit, this being the day that happened. In many ways, the Holy Spirit is the most critical part of the Trinity for us living today. So, with that in mind, I won't talk too much about the Church and the birth of the Church, but more about the Holy Spirit and what that means for us and I will do so through somewhat of a personal testimonial – testifying to God’s deeds of power – a phrase you will hear in our text. So, as you listen to the scripture (if you’re home, you should always try to read the passage out loud), think about the “wind” and the Spirit and its effect on the people.

2When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’ 12All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ 13But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
17 “In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.

18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.

19 And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
20 The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”


Because today is a celebration of the Holy Spirit, God's own Spirit being poured out on us, I want to share a little about my experience on Study Leave, and the Presbyterian Conference I went to a couple of weeks ago – CREDO. I want to do so because I want to reflect verse 11 of our passage where it says the people that day of Pentecost were talking of God’s deed of power, and I felt that power, the power of the HS at the conference; and I believe my experience at that conference directly shows the power and beauty of the Holy Spirit as it affects real life.

“CREDO”, the name of the conference I attended, is a Latin word meaning “I believe” – but it is better translated “I give my heart to.” It is what you are passionate and excited about. Overall, the conference itself was about the health of the pastor – there were many professionals there to work with us pastors addressing health needs – physical health, financial health, vocational health, spiritual health. Overall, it was an amazing experience and I thank you all for allowing me the opportunity to go. But for me, this conference did not start out amazing. As a matter of fact, the first few days were particularly difficult for me. The main difficulty for me was around self-esteem and value – and some longer term struggles for me about how God felt about me – did God really love me? You see, at the conference I was around a set of superstar pastors. The pastors I was with were all amazing – they all had a rich personal history, had attended all the best Presbyterian Seminaries, had written books and been asked to lead other conferences and all manner of opportunities like that. It was clear why God would love them – they were amazing and had lots to show. And I felt like I had none of that.

In a very painful way, I felt out of place and out of my league. With all these amazing superstars, I felt my brokenness and faults were multiplied. These people were far better than me – and they were great people as well. I felt ashamed and embarrassed to be there. You see, if the truth be told, I've never fit “the pastor’s mold”. I grew up kind on the “other side of the tracks”, I was pretty rough around the edges, I had a little bit of a wild streak in me when I was younger, I did what I wanted, I cursed quite a bit – my life experience wasn’t your old fashioned, upright, upstanding, holy minister’s experience. My educational experience was average at best – I did not attend an elite Presbyterian Seminary. So, with all that in the back of my head and heart, I felt really really out of place and unworthy, especially around these amazing folks. All this intensified my struggles deep down, given my past, all my mistakes, my poor choices, with the idea that God really did love me and that I was indeed a child of God.

Given my past, I was now even more uncertain about God’s love for me. So, the first few days were a huge struggle, incredibly painful as I faced some of these, my “demons”; I didn't know how I was going to get through the week – or how I would learn anything. But, for a reason I cannot explain, I can now call it the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, a deed of God’s power, a big part of me gave my trust to the leaders of this conference and to God. I decided to trust the process the leaders had set out before us in hopes that something good would come of it. So I stuck with it – and it was incredibly painful to face my own issues and my own brokenness.

Let’s just say I cried a bit and gritted my teeth a bit during the first few days. In the large group setting, I sat quietly, just listening to everyone, feeling unworthy to offer my thoughts or my opinions because I felt they were not valid or valuable. But then we started our small groups – everyone was broken into small groups of 5 pastors and we were sent off. We were not given any instructions, just sent off to meet. While some groups found that awkward, my group did not. We were motivated and moved by something to begin some powerful, intimate sharing (again, I’ll call that motivation and movement the power and presence of the Holy Spirit). Over the next few days, we shared so much. I shared with these complete strangers all my flaws and brokenness. I let them see who I was and where I had been. I was very scared to do it, because we pastors can be some of the most critical and judgmental people on the planet. But the Spirit prompted me to be vulnerable and get it out there. And you know what? They listened to my story, shared my pain and accepted me as I was – in all my brokenness. This group of people loved me in spite of all I had done and the bad choices I had made in the past. They loved me in all my brokenness. And I felt that – deep in my core. That’s the HS at work friends.

But for me, the best was still to come. On Saturday afternoon, we were given a couple of hours to process everything we had experienced and begin to put together our Rule Of Life. So I went off alone, with just my journal and some music and got to work. And in that quiet time by the lake, listening to beautiful music, the Holy Spirit showed up for me as it did for the folks on Pentecost. As I sat there struggling with so much, struggling to accept my own brokenness, God poured out his Holy Spirit on me and I felt it, not like tongues of fire as the folks did on Pentecost, but through a song which was, and is, a healing ointment or a balm for my soul. In that moment as I listened to that song, my own Pentecost moment, the Holy Spirit of God descended on me and brought healing. So, I am going to play a part of the song for you. (see last page for lyrics)

Friends, in my hearing that song, the HS washed me, filled me and brought incredible healing to me. For that I am deeply grateful. And I am transformed – by the power of the HS. I now feel so much more healed and whole and gifted and called and passionate – and that’s because of the power of the Holy Spirit at work in my life. I am different now – much more at peace, much less judgmental and critical – and so importantly, I can now claim that God does indeed love me and I am a child of God. I could not authentically have done that before the conference – and that makes a huge difference in my life. Because I know I am loved, it is actually easier for me to love others. That’s the power of the Holy Spirit – that's one of God’s deeds of power we read about in verse 11 of our passage.

And particularly today, as we celebrate God pouring out the HS for all of us, I give thanks to God for the gift of the HS and its power and presence. And as we celebrate Pentecost, I invite you to look for that power in your lives. Because it’s real. I have experienced it. It transformed and opened my heart. The Holy Spirit is there for each of you – it is a gift and a promise. Before Jesus left, he told the disciples that he would send “the Advocate, the Helper” to them. He told them to wait in Jerusalem and there they “would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them.” And they did – and it did. And with the power and leading of the HS, these followers of Jesus spread his message and love to the whole world. They all were kind of goofy and kept messing up before the HS came upon them that day, but then after its arrival, they were changed; and they changed the world. The HS is powerful, sisters and brothers. Honestly, I don't know exactly how that works. It’s just something that happens, but it is real. I think through prayer and study, worship and fellowship we can certainly experience the HS in our lives. That’s where we start.

And today we celebrate the healing, the peace, the joy that comes from having the HS in our lives. If you think about the times in your life when you found strength you did not have; when you received peace you did not know existed; when you received healing for your wounds; when you were blessed by love you did not earn, that is the Holy Spirit. That Holy Spirit is the goodness of God, the abundant life at work in our lives. And so we celebrate that today. We give thanks and praise to God for this incredible gift. And I hope that you will let that gift into your lives and into your hearts – and be ever on the lookout for the presence and the power of the HS in your lives. And then like the disciples on that Pentecost day, I hope you will testify to God’s deeds of power. Thanks be to God. Amen.

From the song: No Longer Slaves, by Bethel Music:

I'm no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God
I am surrounded
By the arms of the father
I am surrounded
By songs of deliverance
We've been liberated
From our bondage
We're the sons and the daughters
Let us sing our freedom
You split the sea
So I could walk right through it
My fears were drowned in perfect love
You rescued me
And I will stand and sing
I am a child of God.
Yes, I am
I am a child of God
I am a child of God
Yes, I am
I am a child of God
Full of faith
Yes, I am a child of God
I am a child of God
I'm no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God