Today many Christian congregations celebrate Pentecost. Before you put this article aside thinking, "Well, I don't know what a pente costs, but it can't be cheap," hear these words from our Scriptures. Acts 2:1-4, "When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from the heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability."
The book of Acts is simply the forming acts of the early church. It was originally written as part of the Gospel of Luke and follows Luke's Gospel in both form and style.
The intention of the writing was to preserve the events that came together to form this new gathering of people who had been convinced that Jesus was truly God's son sent to show the world a new way of living and of honoring God in their lives.
Pentecost has been called the birthday of the Christian Church because it is upon this day that the very same spirit that had come from God to us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth was now given to everyone and anyone who would receive it. The Spirit of God is the gift of God's promise to be with us through all our days, inviting, encouraging, sustaining and comforting us. Yet, the times I have most felt the Spirit in my life have been far from comforting. You see, God brings change.
One of the reasons so many are reluctant to come to faith is because to do so means we might be changed. Opening ourselves to God means opening our hearts and minds to the possibility that our lives may be ready for a little tuning up, a little redirecting, a little surprise from God.
I like it when God surprises me. Remember a few years ago when the Disney movie "Pocahontas" was popular? There was a scene where Pocahontas was singing of the newcomer's blindness to the true value and miracles of God's creation around them. She said something like, "You can never know what you never knew."
I took that into my life and realized that there are far too many places in my living and my faith that if I only know what I always knew, what value am I to those who are seeking to know? This is very tender.
As a pastor people expect me to know what we all should know, yet the limit of my knowing is that Jesus came from God to live among us, was crucified for his efforts to love us, was raised from his tomb in a glorious day we call Easter, remained with his followers and friends for a while and, after ascending back to God gave us his very spirit to empower and direct our unknowing lives.
That spirit came as a gift from a God who desires that we might finally know what we never knew. That's Pentecost and it's free.
The Rev. Pete Nelson of Carson Valley United Methodist Church is a member of the Carson Valley Ministers' Association.