When times are fearful, we can pray “Lord send the fire, that Pentecostal power!” Pentecost is not a day, but a season in the life of the church. Pentecost comes to Christ’s church for Christ’s church to serve everyone in the world.
On the day of Pentecost, Christ sent the Holy Spirit to His church. This church, the ark of salvation, had existed from the foundation of the world, but now the Holy Spirit came to all Christ’s friends, not just a ruler like David or a prophet like Isaiah. The ancient promise that all God’s people could speak the Word of the Lord and feel God’s loving power was consummated. The simple could become wise thanks to the gift of God.
Christ Jesus ascended so that the Holy Spirit could come. Jesus comes to the world near the start of Luke’s Gospel and then Luke tells of the redemptive life of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit comes to the church near the beginning of Luke’s Acts of the Apostles and then Luke tells of the redemptive work of some of those apostles in the power of the Holy Spirit. The focus of Pentecost, as Peter’s sermon shows, is on what God did in the incarnation and what God was doing through the Church now. We live, right now, in the age of prophetic fulfillment where “that spoken of by the prophets” becomes a “this” that we can experience.
Christ our God and the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father are the center of the Pentecostal experience. Those who experience Pentecost break down all barriers of language (2:8), economics (2:44), and ethnicity (2:5) to become one gathering. Babel is undone and the new City of God comes. We do not return to a Garden, the childhood of humankind, but to the Kingdom of God in the City Foursquare. Gifts are given in this beloved community and these are good and necessary gifts from God. Yet Pentecost was not and cannot be sought for the gifts (8:20), but for the sake of the good God as known through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Just as Mary, when the Spirit overshadowed her (Luke 1), was capable of the prophetic Magnificat, so Peter was able to deliver a powerful word after being filled with the Holy Spirit. The Apostles could develop a community that overshadowed Rome, produced great culture in this life, and prepared people for the eternal life to come. This was not bad for an oppressed people, ground down by an empire, and let down by her own leaders.
That same gathering, Christ’s church, exists today. We can go and wait. There when Christ wills, we can see the True Light available freely to all. I could use that fire from on high just now.
Blessed are You, O Christ our God, who made fishermen all-wise, sending upon them the Holy Spirit and, through them, netting the world. O Loving One, glory to You.