My family used to live in a home that had a large tree swing in the backyard. And we would do this thing called an ‘underdog’ where I would have one of my children on the swing, and say my daughter was on there, and I would pull the swing back as far as I could and then I would push forward and run through the swing and then push it up in the air as high as I could as I ran underneath it. And then that initial underdog would make the swing continue to go back and forth, like a pendulum, for about five minutes. My children loved it.
On Pentecost we celebrate how really God gave an underdog to the Christian Church. It was a special outpouring of His Holy Spirit. The Christian Church, in its infancy, just a few apostles needed a boost and that is what God gave with this very special outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and gifts, and special abilities that they received. We read in Acts chapter 2.
Suddenly a sound like the rushing of a violent wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw divided tongues that were like fire resting on each one of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, since the Spirit was giving them the ability to speak fluently. (Acts 2:2-4)
And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing of wind and they received tongues of fire on their heads and they spoke in other languages to share the message of the risen Lord Jesus.
It was a very important time for the church, which the church needed. But now we don’t need to look for those special miraculous signs or gifts now that that work is completed. Rather now the Holy Spirit continues, keeping the church going and active through his word and his sacraments, the means of grace. We are all born with a sinful mind. Scripture tells us that the sinful mind is hostile to God, we cannot come to God by our own reason or strength, it’s impossible.
And that’s why the work of the Holy Spirit is so important in our lives.
Through the Word and sacraments he comes to you and me, he shows us our sin and he shows us our Savior: Jesus Christ. He turns our hearts around and gives us faith. And so I encourage you to gather with the whole Christian Church, gather with your local congregation around the means of grace, the Word and the sacraments, and receive that life-giving Word through faith in Christ Jesus. Amen.