The Pastoral View

The Jews celebrated Pentecost fifty days after Passover, commemorating the Israelites’ arrival at Mount Sinai fifty days after their deliverance from Egypt. Pentecost celebrated God’s covenant with Israel, when Israel was called to be God’s own people. It was one of the three pilgrim feasts of the Jews, feasts on which Jews were expected to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the celebration. That is why “there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem” when the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles, Mary, and the other disciples with noise and fire that echoed the thunder and smoke the Israelites experienced at Sinai.

The Holy Spirit changed Peter, who just seven weeks earlier was afraid to admit to a lowly servant girl that he even knew Jesus. After receiving the Holy Spirit, Peter boldly proclaimed to the Jews who gathered that they killed Jesus, using lawless men to crucify him. After curing a lame beggar in the Temple, Peter again spoke boldly to the crowd, “The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead.” The first time Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedrin, the council of Jewish religious leaders, Peter again boldly proclaimed, “He is ‘the stone rejected by you, the builders, that has become the cornerstone.’ There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.” The second time, after they were put in prison but released by an angel, Peter said to the assembled leaders, “The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree.”

The Holy Spirit changes faith communities, also. When the believers prayed to be able to speak God’s word with boldness, “the place where they were gathered shook, and they were all filled with the holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”

May our prayers and the Holy Spirit’s response be so strong as to make our building shake.

Dick Schiefelbein, Pastoral Council member