Pentecost Reversed

Well, today is Pentecost Sunday.  You’ll remember (if you don’t, you’ll hear for the first time) that Israel celebrated the Feast of Weeks as a time of giving thanks to God for a plentiful harvest.  They also used this time to celebrate and remember that God gave Moses the 15 … um, I mean, 10 Commandments.  As Christians we celebrate Pentecost (50 days after the Resurrection) as the time when God gave birth to the church through the pouring out of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2 if you want to read about it).

Well, last night I had a strange dream that is related to Pentecost.  In my dream I was preparing to preach a sermon and when I arose to speak I had nothing to offer.  I fumbled through the pages in my Bible finding it difficult even to read it.  I mumbled a few things, trying to make sense of the mess I found myself in, but in the end I simply told the people, “I have nothing for you today” and then I sat down.  Shortly after that I woke up very happy that I was not preaching today.  However, somewhere between the world of dreams and the world of consciousness I knew the point of the dream: Apart from me you can do nothing!

Oh, how I struggle with these words of Jesus (John 15:5).  I would like to think and I often tell myself that I can do things on my own.  In fact, I so very often try to prove it.  My dream was very clear – Apart from me you can do nothing!  Pentecost clearly teaches – Apart from me you can do nothing!

I had a small taste of this during our gathered worship today; I reversed Pentecost!  I didn’t do it on purpose, but I did none the less.  If it weren’t for my dream, for the fact that this was the only mistake in the worship service, and that the message was completely amazing then maybe this little mistake wouldn’t bother me so much … but it does.  Our order called for the reading of Genesis 11 followed by a psalm and a song and then Acts 2:1-21.  Well, Genesis 11 is the story of the Tower of Babel, where the very people God created and named were trying to make their own name.  Because of this God confused their language and scattered them.  Acts 2:1-21 is the story of how God begins to rescue and renew his scattered and confused people, evidenced in this case by the presence of the Holy Spirit and the gift of language.  I stood up to read too early.  I read Acts before we read Genesis and inadvertently reversed Pentecost.

Of course, because I am the Lead Pastor no one is going to tell me to sit down, though I wish they would have.  I know it is really not a big deal but it did remind me that even the smallest tasks ought to be done in the power of the Holy Spirit.  So now I am soaring through a confusing, encouraging and frightening process of reflection upon my life.  The question I am asking is this, “Who is in control?”  God clearly gave us a name and named the power by which we are to accomplish his purpose and I am simply asking myself, “Am I seeking my own name and my own power, or am I trusting that the name God gave me and the power he offers us is sufficient?”

May I suggest that you do the same?


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