Grace and peace to you, from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
This morning, we are celebrating Pentecost. It is also the day of Confirmation. Heidi, Sophia, and Rebecca - Today as you affirm your baptism, you fulfill the promises that were made on your behalf when you were baptized. Your parents and sponsors promised that they would be faithful in bringing you to worship and teaching you the ways of the church. Over the years, you have learned about God’s love for you and learned to open your hearts to the Holy Spirit’s leading. All of this has brought you, not to an ending of study and growth in faith, but to the beginning of a new and deeper understanding of what it means to be a Christian. It is our hope that you will continue to grow in your Christian faith and remain open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
You were baptized into the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, that wild Wind, entered your lives and may lead you to places that make you uncomfortable. But even though we can’t always know where the Spirit will lead us, we can trust that the Holy Spirit – the very breath of God – will lead us to places and people who need to hear the Word of God.
There is a bit of confusion in this reading, because it uses the word “Pentecost,” which means fifty in Greek. We know it as the day the Holy Spirit came to the disciples. But the annual festival, that Luke (the writer of Acts) is talking about, is the Jewish “Festival of Weeks” or “Shavuot.” This was an annual festival celebrating the giving of the Torah to Moses, and all the people of Israel, at Mt Sinai, which was celebrated on the 50th day after Passover. During Shavuot, Jerusalem was filled with faithful Jews from all over the Roman Empire, who had come to celebrate the Law and God’s provision of food.
The disciples were not celebrating; they were hiding! Jesus had been crucified. Just 50 days before, they had seen him Risen from the dead, ascending into heaven. But they were still afraid that they could or would be arrested and killed, because they followed Jesus.
But notice, when the Holy Spirit came to them, the disciples were no longer afraid. They proclaimed the story of Jesus in front of a huge crowd. What’s more, everyone there – no matter what language they spoke – could understand what the disciples were saying.
See what I mean about the Holy Spirit? It can be dangerous! It can take you places you might never have gone. Which is what it does to the disciples. They become Apostles and travel the known world, sharing the Good News of God’s love, and telling the story of Jesus. (And unfortunately, some were arrested and executed, for sharing God’s love.) That is what you are called to do as well. You may not travel the world preaching about the love of God. More likely, you will use your life and your relationships with others to tell the story of Jesus and the love of God wherever you live. And don’t be afraid, there are many ways to share God’s love that don’t include the risk of execution!
People will see how you live, as a child of God: loving your neighbors; supporting and advocating for the marginalized among us, those who are persecuted for the color of their skin; giving help to the poor and oppressed. You are sent out, just as all Christians are sent to live lives of love and caring for others. Remember to always love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. And God’s love will show through what you do, as much as what you say. Amen.