June 8, 2003
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Ezekiel 37:1-14
Reading 2: 
Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
Reading 3: 
Acts 2:1-21 or Romans 8:22-27
Reading 4: 
John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
By Vernon Goff

Pentecost Sunday places an unmistakable emphasis on the spiritual aspect of God and human beings. It makes clear that in the Christian tradition it is expected that Christians be "filled with the spirit". A level of importance is placed on this emphasis to the degree that it becomes essential if one is to have a meaningful internal relationship with God. Furthermore it is essential if one is to be an effective partner with God in achieving the values of life which God makes possible and desires for us. In the Christian tradition there is no value greater than being a child of God personally, and influencing others to that same relationship with God. Christians often overlook the possibility that persons in the world with different religious and cultural backgrounds may achieve the same value by "walking a different path".

The scripture in Acts paints a picture of persons "waiting", and God "doing". The people were waiting for God to empower them in a manner which gave emotional verification so that they could survive in a hostile world and impact the lives of others in a manner that would also bring them into a parent-child relationship with God. Of special importance to that special day was a belief that God performed a miracle on ears/and or voices so that even though persons came from a variety of nationalities/ languages, they could all understand one another.

It is not uncommon for religious persons to believe that the "Pentecostal" experience of achieving power is the model for all Christians everywhere and in all times. Human experience/history testifies to the inadequacy of such a belief. The "Pentecostal" experience may be pleasant to the recipient but it is not necessarily beneficial to the person or the world "at the end of the day". Drugs can make a similar internal contribution to the sense of well-being and peace experienced by the user, but the negative side of drug abuse is well known. The best choice between Pentecostal religion and drug use is clear--but there is a better way!

The message of Jesus through word and example can be summed up in three words: LOVE, HOPE, and HELP. We are created as an expression of God's love. We are designed to love and be loved by each other. We find meaning in life through hope that the negatives of life can either be prevented, neutralized, or become a basis for growth and victory. We are encouraged to seek and find help through a multitude of resources, including one another, through the nature of God's creativity.

Human history and experience has shown that growth in love is a process on every level. Love needs nurturing and is capable of growth and maturity. In a world that is as small as ours is now from the perspective of communication and transportation, this realization is imperative. The breaking down of barriers that prohibits the rootage of love among persons who look different and act different is a process--but we are discovering that it is a rewarding process.

Hope is related to knowledge of the past, confidence in the resources of the present, and goals of value for the future.  All of this speaks of the real and essential nature of life as "process".

Help is amplified in method, kind, and effectiveness through learning and experience. We learn how to help "better" through learning. We accomplish more helping of one another through doing. Experience and research teaches us how we can improve the quality of the "help" we give.

There is nothing wrong in WISHING that internal peace and power comes through an instantaneous emotional experience. There is something vastly wrong in expecting that wishful thinking brings the desired results. Growth in an experience of internal peace and power is a process, not an instantaneous miracle.  Experiencing partnership with God in helping the needs of others, and in responding effectively to the help we receive from others is a process.

Pentecost might be better understood as the nudging of God in our lives which can bring about an expanding experience of what life is really designed to be about. Just a bit of "Pentecost" each day, initiates a process of empowerment which surely brings satisfaction to God in Creation, at the end of the day!