The power of Pentecost

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Acts 2:14 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. 15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 No, 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.

When the day of Pentecost had come and the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples they began to speak in languages other than their own. Today we refer to this as “speaking in tongues”. Some of the bystanders thought they were drunk, but Peter corrected them. What they were witnessing was the fulfillment of the prophesy spoken through Joel. Two things about this passage I find interesting.

First, I’m struck by the boldness of Peter. Not long before this incident Peter and his fellow disciples were hiding behind closed doors, fearing they would be killed as Jesus had been. But filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter was a different man. Reminds me of the words of the Apostle Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ, for now it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Secondly, I’m struck by the inclusive nature of the prophecy. In years past only certain persons received the Spirit of God, generally men specially appointed by God. However, at Pentecost that all changed. The Spirit fell on all believers – men, women, slave-owners, slaves, Jews, non-Jews, you name it. God is not partial.

I wasn’t a committed believer until my mid-20s, so it surprises me that I was called to be a pastor. I didn’t grow up in church youth group or church camp. I never worked as a camp counselor nor did I attend a Lutheran college or university. Most of the pastors I know did one or more of these things, so I don’t fit the mold. But over the 20 years of being a pastor I’ve come to accept and even appreciate the different path I took to ministry. I’m grateful that, like Peter and the other disciples, God grabbed hold of me via the power of the Spirit and never let me go.

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