Happy Birthday!

June 8th is Pentecost Sunday— the church's birthday!  We should have balloons and streamers. We should have birthday cake and noise-makers.  We should celebrate, because today is the birthday of the church — not the birthday of just this congregation, but the birthday of the church of Jesus Christ — the whole thing!

 Something great happened at Pentecost! The Holy Spirit — God's Spirit — filled the disciples. God's Holy Spirit transformed a handful of ordinary disciples into powerhouses.  God's Holy Spirit fueled a revolution — new beginning — a new birth.

 We need another Pentecost today!

·         We need the Holy Spirit to fill and fuel us!

·         We need the Holy Spirit to breathe life into us and to set us on fire just as it did at that first Christian Pentecost.

 Simone Weil makes the point that the Greek word, pneuma, which is translated spirit in the New Testament, literally means fiery breath. The Holy Spirit is God's fiery breath!

·         In Genesis, God blew his pneuma--his fiery breath--his Spirit--into a handful of dust, and the dust became a living being--man.

·         At Pentecost, God blew his pneuma--his fiery breath--his Spirit--into the disciples, and they became a living being--the church.

·         The fire that started at Pentecost spread quickly. Soon it engulfed the world. God blew his pneuma--his fiery breath--his Spirit--into a few raggedy disciples. He set them on fire, and they set the world on fire. We need God's Spirit to do that for us today!

And God is willing to do that! He is willing to fill us with his Spirit today. In fact, he gave us his Spirit at baptism. He started the fire inside us when we were baptized.   What happened then? That depends on how we responded to God after our baptism.

·         Some Christians throw open the doors of their hearts, so that God's breath fans the spark of his Spirit into a great flame. We say of them that they are "on fire" for Christ.

·         But some Christians close so many doors that God's breath has no passageway to reach the spark. They can't give God their Sunday morning, because they are too busy. They can't give God their money, because they are too poor. They can't mention Jesus to their friends, because they are too timid. They can't honor God with faithful sexuality, because they are too much in love. One by one, they close the doors to their hearts--so the spark of God's Spirit smolders, but never bursts into flame--never sparks new life in them--never changes anything at the core of their being!

We need to give God's Spirit space inside us to burn. It would make such a difference. When we give God's Holy Spirit room to catch fire inside us, the Spirit produces fruits. The apostle Paul says that the fruits of the Spirit are "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23 WEB).  Those are the things that should characterize us as Christians — nine things — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control.

Philip Yancey, in his book, I Was Just Wondering, writes:

What would happen...if these nine words came to mind when you said the word "Christian": love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?

 What would happen indeed! Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could become people of: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control!

We can be all those things! Those fruits of the Spirit grow as naturally in a Christian life as a peach grows on a peach tree. God can and will make us people of: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  That will happened if we will just open the doors of our hearts to let his breath fan the spark of his Spirit.