“All Together in One Place” by Rev. J.C. Austin
This Sunday is Pentecost, the Christian holiday celebrating the gift of the Holy Spirit to Christ’s disciples, just as he promised would happen, and which effectively created the Christian church as a movement. It’s a dramatic story that takes place in the second chapter of the book of Acts in the New Testament, and it begins with the sentence, “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.”
But on this day, they had all gathered together, perhaps to celebrate Pentecost itself. Pentecost is actually a word that got used by some Greek-speaking Jews to refer to the Jewish festival of Shavuot, which functioned as both a harvest festival and a celebration of the gift of the Law to Moses; Shavuot is still celebrated by Jews today for that. In any case, while the disciples were gathered in one place, the Holy Spirit descended on them, and they began pouring out into the streets to preach the gospel.
We are going to celebrate Pentecost at First Pres in two particular ways. First, we also are going to gather together in one place. The Session has decided that we will have 4-6 combined worship services each year, times in which the whole church will gather in one place and worship with elements of both traditional and contemporary style. Sometimes this will be for a particular reason in terms of church life, such as we did back in February for the annual congregational meeting. Sometimes it will be for worship reasons, which is why we are gathering this Sunday.