Numbers 11: 24-30
Acts 2: 1-21
John 7: 37-39
The last many weeks have been different. The pandemic has caused us to change and shift and compromise. What was normal is no longer that. We wear masks (some of us), we keep safe distance (some of us), we only go where necessary (fewer of us). We're tired of waiting for the world and our lives to be normal, again. This being tired of waiting brings with it no small measure of anxiety.
As a worshiping Church community, we have weathered the loss of most of Lent, all of Holy Week, Easter, and the Season of Easter. Today is Pentecost; the 50th day from Easter. And we're still a couple of weeks from worshiping at Calvary. Has it been a drought for our spirits? Perhaps. The waiting is not easy. It tests us in ways that are unfamiliar to us.
For the first Christians, the waiting was also difficult. Jesus was the Messiah, but he died on the cross. His tomb was empty. Witnesses told of his several appearances. The disciples twice saw him in the Upper Room. Confusion and surprise were known by those near to Jesus.
On Pentecost the Holy Spirit came upon thousands with great power and with fiery tongues and unconfused languages. The waiting was over, so to speak. The beginning of the Church was sourced in the gift bestowed by Jesus in the Holy Spirit. He promised to give them this Holy Spirit. He told them to wait for it. Finally, it has come and it has overwhelmed them.
Another overwhelming reality is revealed in our text from Numbers on this Pentecost Sunday. Moses chooses 70 men for prophecy in Israel. God came down from heaven and bestowed his Spirit of them that they would be His prophets in the Land. Now, there stood Eldad and Medad. They were back in camp and were not among the 70. But, still, the Spirit of God rested on them and they were also divinely empowered prophets
But there was some jealousy. There were those in camp who wanted Moses to prohibit Eldad and Medad from prophesying. The Lord refused by saying "Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, that the Lord would put his spirit upon them."
The power of the Holy Spirit for prophecy is unrestricted. It rests upon whom God chooses and it empowers according to God's designs and those who bear that Holy Spirit are free to speak the holy words of God. That power and those words are free and cannot be contained or fixed in place, culture, or generation.
The fiery tongues and the understood languages of that first Pentecost have not disappeared from the earth. The promise Jesus made to those who were with him on that Jewish Day of Pentecost in John's 7th chapter stand as witnesses to every prophet who ever risked bearing and speaking the Word of God.
"If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, 'Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'" The river to which Jesus refers is the one that will flow from Jerusalem on the last day. It will flow down the Kidron Valley enveloping Gehenna, extinguishing its fire and continuing to flow ever broadly out from there until the entirety of the earth is washed free.
That power is the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus bestows on and blesses the twelve and, by them, every believer from those first many thousands at Pentecost to those who today bear witness to the goodness and graciousness of God.
In a season of pandemic, when the COVID-19 virus threatens the lives of millions, the Church of Jesus Christ can declare there is another kind of power that is life affirming and life changing and in it rests our hope for this life and the next. Amen.
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