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Lectionary Notes for Pentecost Sunday

Readings for Pentecost Sunday, 5/24/15:
Acts 2:2-21, Psalm 104:24-34, 35b, Romans 8:22-27, John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15

Acts 2:1-21
  • I have to admit - speaking in tongues is something that I don't connect to, don't understand, and frankly, usually don't take seriously. My only witnessing of speaking in tongues has left me more than a little skeptical. But I can't deny its frequent presence in the scriptures - so where does that leave me? Last year, a girl of approximately 9 year of age read this passage in church on Pentecost, and she whipped through Phrygia and Pamphylia like they were her hometowns. It was amazing. If I think about her reading this passage so flawlessly, I think I can get my head a little bit around the idea of speaking in tongues. When an unlikely vessel communicates an even more unlikely message, with unlikely abilities?
  • Pentecost. In some ways, these scene is one of the most exciting in the Bible. This is the moment of truth - Jesus is dead, risen, and ascended. The disciples have been taught, prodded, encouraged, but most of all, entrusted with the good news. Will they carry it on? Will they stand up in the face of opposition and accusations? Yes! The start of the church.
  • Everyone who calls on God's name will be saved!
  • Notice that Peter quotes how God's spirit is poured out on all flesh: songs, daughter, young, old, slave free. Seriously, where do we get the idea that God only speaks through some people, who we deem acceptable?
Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
  • manifold: many and varied
  • Leviathan: same name as Jonah's whale is given - a big sea 'monster'/creature, or just generally a big thing of its kind: the 'Leviathan' of the redwoods would be the biggest of the trees. (check out Dictionary.com)
  • The dependence of creation on the Creator. While I don't like to think of God hiding God's face from me, the psalmist makes the point that we are dependent on God.
  • "I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being." Amen!
Romans 8:22-27:
  • "whole creation has been groaning in labor pains" - I like this image - the whole creation is expecting - in expectation of what God is working in us.
  • "wait for adoption" - I'm always torn by Paul's language of adoption. On the one hand, I'm hesitant to think that we're not born into God's family, God's children. I shudder to think that God only adopts some as children, and not others, which is an unfortunate and often drawn conclusion of such theology. But on the other hand, there is a special-ness about God going the 'extra mile', as it were, to make us God's own. Out of God's deep desire to have us as children. I guess I just want to make sure God has no limits or special qualifications for who is adopted! But I can also picture the hope of a child waiting to be adopted.
  • Hope - "we wait for it with patience." Ah, some are better at this then others, no?
  • "for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words." Yes, exactly. Thank God for the spirit interceding. God hears us, even if we can't speak it.
John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15:
  • "from the beginning" - those he speaks to know the whole story, or apparently all of it Jesus them to know to fulfill their roles.
  • :7 "It is to your advantage" - I doubt the disciples saw it this way. Who wants a weird-sounding Advocate instead of Jesus who they know and love?
  • "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now." Bear, from the Greek bastazo^, meaning, to lift up, to bear in mind, to consider. Perhaps this statement from Jesus still applies to us today - Jesus is always wanting to fill us in, share more, but we are never able to bear it, it seems.
  • "When the Spirit of truth comes, [it] will guide you into all the truth." What a unique way of phrasing this - "all the truth" (emphasis added). What is all the truth?
  • The Spirit is not speaking things the Spirit comes up with, the Spirit is not originating direction on its own - the Spirit is like a messenger, conveying what is heard, and what is to come. The Spirit is the Vessel for God's communication with us, at least in this interpretation from John. Interesting words for Trinity Sunday . . .

Comments

I think the speaking in tongues the Bible refers to is simply speaking in languages miraculously, that is, speaking someone else's language even without training in that language.

For example, the only language I naturally know is English. Now, if I had the gift of tongues, I could speak to a German in the German language or a Frenchman in the French language so we could understand each other.

This was a gift God gave many in the New Testament Church at that time to help them preach the gospel to many nationalities. It was also evidence, as a sign, that God was working through the speaker.

Today, God has not empowered the Church with miraculous signs to prove who His ministers are because we have the Bible complete, and anyone can use fulfilled prophecy to know that God inspired the bible. So the proof of a true minister today is whether he teaches the Bible accurately or not, so there is no need for miraculous signs.

Pentecost is rich in meaning, as I point out in my article.

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