Pentecost as holiday of Law and Gospel

For the Jews in Jesus’ time and today, Pentecost was a celebration of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai, which was thought to have happened 50 days after Passover.  So for centuries, it was a holiday that celebrated the Law.  But then, on the same day, God gave His people the Holy Spirit, making it also a holiday celebrating the Gospel. [Read more...]

The Upper Room

Something I picked up in church:  The “upper room” that was the setting for the Last Supper (Luke 22:7-12) was also very likely the same “upper room” in which the Disciples met to replace Judas (Acts 1:13).  That means it was also the place where Jesus washed His Disciple’s feet and since it was the place “where they were staying” in Jerusalem, it must have been where Jesus appeared to them after His resurrection and was very likely where the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost (Acts 2:1), which we celebrate this Sunday.  So this room was, in effect, the first church-as-building.  And it reminds us of what happens even today in church buildings, which are the places where we too receive the Lord’s Supper, serve each other, meet the Risen Lord, and receive the Holy Spirit.

Who proceeds from the Father and the Son

Happy Pentecost yesterday!  May the Holy Spirit pour out His richest blessings on you.  May the Holy Spirit work in your heart as you hear God’s Word.

Here is a  question about the Holy Spirit that I would like to submit to the collective theological knowledge manifested in the readership of this blog:   In Western Christianity, both among Roman Catholics and creedal Protestants, the Nicene Creed that we confess says that we believe in the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

In Eastern Christianity, on the other hand, the Orthodox rendition of the Nicene Creed says that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father. [Read more...]

Pentecost & Memorial Day

Two big holidays this weekend, one in the church year and the other national.  I hope you had a meaningful Pentecost on Sunday and that you will have a meaningful and enjoyable Memorial Day today.

So let’s play a holiday game.  Connect the dots.  What connections can you make between what we celebrate on Pentecost (the gift of the Holy Spirit, the birthday of the Church) and what we celebrate on Memorial Day (the sacrifice of our troops, in some locales the memory of those in general who have died, the beginning of the summer vacation season)?

Pentecost questions

Yesterday was Pentecost, the day the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Church.  In celebration and contemplation of the day and the new season of the church year that we will be in for awhile, I would like to pose a couple questions:

(1)  At the first Pentecost, those upon whom the Holy Spirit descended spoke in tongues.  But why is this associated with the charismatic practice of glossolalia?  Wasn’t what the disciples did the opposite of that?  The whole point is that their languages were understood.   People from every nation, speaking many different languages, were all hearing the apostles preach “the mighty works of God” in their own language.  Isn’t Pentecost fulfilled even today as people all over the world are hearing the apostolic testimony recorded in the Word of God, which has been translated into so many of the world’s languages?

Speaking in  tongues that no one can understand is referred to in the epistles to the Corinthians, so I’m not totally discounting the phenomenon.  But I’m just saying that the Pentecost account is describing something very different.

(2)  Some theological traditions think of the Holy Spirit as coming to us from the outside (for example, through God’s Word); others as coming from the inside (inspiring us through inner voices or impulses).  And yet both perspectives speak of the Holy Spirit guiding us.  Is that just a matter of reading the Bible to see what the Holy Spirit tells us?  Or do you think–and I’m especially addressing those who stress the external work of the Holy Spirit–that He guides us in other ways?  If so, how does that work?  For those of you who stress the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, how can you discern what inner senses are  from the Spirit and what isn’t?

I don’t particularly want to provoke a bitter theological debate about the charismatic movement.  I’d just like to hear from different people on how they perceive the Holy Spirit in their lives.

Happy belated Pentecost

Sunday was Pentecost, commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit 50 days after Easter and thus the birthday of the Church.  Something I learned from Sunday’s service:  The Holy Spirit was accompanied by miraculous language, which was not just words but powerful, life-changing words that all people could understand.  That is to say, the Holy Spirit manifested itself in the Word of God.  So every time we read the Bible, hear it preached, or otherwise experience  the faith-creating proclamation of the Gospel–all in our own language–the miracle of Pentecost continues.


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