Holy Rollers and Drunk Disciples

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Bible Cliff’s Notes (My dog ate my Bible!)

Gospel
John 14:8-17, 25-27
Phillips still doesn’t get that Jesus and God “the Father” are one and the same. But Jesus gets over being annoyed pretty quickly and assures him that he (and we) can and will do even greater things than Jesus when we do them in God’s name. We’re endowed with the Holy Spirit, or the “spirit of truth,” to keep us on the path that Jesus laid out for us.

First Reading
Acts 2:1-21
The beginning of Pentecost, or the birth of the church. The disciples are filled with the holy spirit, though observers think they’re drunk. They begin speaking in the native languages of all those present. Peter explains that this is fulfillment of prophesy. He describes fantastical visions from the prophet Joel about “end times,” and concludes with Joel’s claim that, “everyone who calls upon the Lord shall be saved.” 

(Or)
Genesis 11:1-9
The story of the tower of Babel. People decided to build a tower all the way to heaven to memorialize themselves, which pisses off God. He punishes them by making them all speak different languages and spreading them out to all corners of the earth.

Psalm
Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
A song of awe and worship for God the Creator of all things of the earth, a God that has power over life and death.

Second Reading
Romans 8:14-17
Very beautiful text from Paul, in which he claims we are born into a spirit of adoption by God, meaning we are inheritors of God’s kingdom just as Jesus is. There is no slavery in this spirit and nothing to fear.

(Or)
Acts 2:1-21
See description above under “First Reading.”

WTF? (Breaking down scripture in plain language)

Holy Spirit – There are lots of different understandings of what the Holy Spirit is, from a feminine expression of the Divine, to a supernatural kind of ghost. For me the “Spirit of truth” that Paul refers to resonates a lot. It is this compass, inborn in us, that helps guide us along the path Jesus illuminates for us.

Prophecy – This is another word with disputed meaning. Some think of it more like fortune telling, where a prophet reads the future. For me, I understand it more as a spirit of clarity or discernment, which might also include having a clearer understanding of what’s coming up ahead. And in the truest sense of the word, a prophet is a “truth teller.”

Pentecost – The word literally means “fiftieth day.” Back in ancient Israel, it marked a Jewish festival in observance of when the Jewish Laws were handed down from God to Moses on Mount Sinai. Interestingly, this was not the Ten Commandments, and these laws weren’t actually written down in the Jewish Talmud, or sacred text. After the event described in the text from Acts, it’s better known in Christianity for being (roughly) fifty days after Easter, and is considered the “birthday” of the Christian church. 

Abba –  No, this is not some Biblical reference to a Swedish pop band from the 80s. It’s actually Hebrew for “daddy,” or “papa.” What’s worth noting about this is how intimate the expression is, especially when compared with how God is referred to in other places, like this week’s Psalm.

Navel-Gazing (First Thoughts)

  • The whole idea of the Trinity (three different manifestations of God as God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) can be pretty confusing when you start thinking about it. For one, we talk about these separate entities, but then Jesus says he and God are one and the same thing. So are they separate or not??? Some people like my wife, Rev. Amy Piatt, call themselves “infinitarians” instead of Trinitarians, because they see God expressed in infinitely different ways throughout creation. But the number three is big symbolically in the Bible, generally representing wholeness, perfection or completeness. For me, when I think of the Trinity, it helps to imagine God the Father as “God beyond,” Jesus or “God the Son” as “God within,” and the Holy Spirit as this sort of connective tissue that holds us together, or “God among.”
  • I love the idea that onlookers thing the Disciples are drunk when they’re overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit. It just goes to show that people have always thought Christians were a little bit weird…

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Click to check out the new Heretic’s Guide to the Bible Blog HERE

About Christian Piatt

Christian Piatt is the creator and editor of BANNED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BIBLE and BANNED QUESTIONS ABOUT JESUS. He co-created and co-edits the “WTF: Where’s the Faith?” young adult series with Chalice Press, and he has a memoir on faith, family and parenting being published in early 2012 called PREGMANCY: A Dad, a Little Dude and a Due Date.


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