Let’s all sing…
Happy Birthday to You,
Happy Birthday to You,
Happy Birthday, Church,
Happy Birthday to You!!!
Streamers, balloons, a banner, people blowing through noise makers… and a big cake! Well okay, Pentecost is not that kind of birthday party, but it is a celebration of the beginning of the Church. Instead of these fun festive things, we remember things which took place that are even more awesome!
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. (Acts 2:3-6)
The Holy Spirit put things into motion for Christianity as it descended upon the Apostles and others present. If the Holy Spirit had not come down, the Church would not be what it is today because the Gospel would not have spread beyond Jesus’ closest followers. The fact the people received the gift of the ability to speak in various languages; they could go off to spread the Gospel to others than of their own native language. We would not be able to be a witness to others today. Jesus makes the point in the Gospel:
“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:12-15)
The message of Jesus is the truth, and because the disciples were given the gift to teach what Jesus instructed in languages other than their own, teaching the truth of what is yet to come has been passed on. The message was not to stay with the disciples. Because the Gospel has been spread throughout the world and through history, it is not intended to remain with us. We are called to be witnesses of the Gospel for others to spread the message so that they may also spread the message.
There are so many individuals and groups who need to hear the Gospel, and they often hear the opposite of the Gospel. They hear the message of ignorance, indifference, or even hate because of social status, ethnicity, gender preference, or disability. I have seen posters at “Christian” rallies which say, “God hates Gays” and “God is White”. I read a news article which was about a city making it illegal to aid the homeless, and it hurts me deeply to see people who claim they are Christian only turn away from the Gospel. Jesus did not avoid the leper and other “impure” people, but instead he reached out to also minister to them. It is not always easy to love our neighbor, but it is our call to be witnesses of the Gospel to everybody. Are you spreading the Gospel???