A MESSAGE FROM THE REV. J.C. AUSTIN: EXPERIENCING THE SPIRIT
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.”
In other words, the original disciples of Jesus had gathered in the same place, which was notable because they had spent most of the time after the resurrection of Christ in different places, scattered about as some hid in fear of the authorities who had executed Jesus, while others tried to return to their ordinary lives from before they started following Jesus.
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.
This is the first Pentecost since 2019 that we as a congregation have been able to gather together in one place, and it will be a joy to do so! We are going to celebrate Pentecost at First Pres in two particular ways.
First, remember that we are literally gathering in one place for a single Summer Worship service at 10 a.m. in the Sanctuary. We encourage you to wear something red, referencing how the Spirit appeared over the gathered disciples on Pentecost like tongues of flame, to celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit not only to the early church, but to us here at First Pres in guiding and energizing us as a congregation.
Second, I hope you will stick around after worship for the first of our “Table Talk” gatherings. Once each month during June, July, and August (in place of Lemonade on the Lawn hospitality time), we’ll gather for food and fellowship, and enjoy learning more about our Afghan family and their experiences. They will join us for this first Table Talk gathering and we’ll hear their remarkable, moving story.
We’ll provide a halal meat entree, bread, and drinks. We’d love for you to bring either a salad or dessert if you’re able. (If you aren’t able to do so, please join us anyway!) We’ll gather in the shade out front for our time together (or in Fellowship Hall if it’s raining).
So: Pentecost Sunday will be a special day at First Pres, and I hope you will be a part of the celebration! I look forward to being with you on Sunday and experiencing the Spirit move in and through us!
Grace and Peace,