Pentecost – Spirit, Proclamation, Community

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Acts 2:1-47

What is God Doing? Acts looks back to Pentecost - a remarkable beginning. Not careful planning and strategy. Not insight by Apostles. Yes, they were prepared by Jesus. But they were carried along by God’s intervention. God waited till Pentecost for the meaning of the feasts. Passover: deliverance. Pentecost: Covenant, Community, Giving of Torah - God breaking in. God intervenes in power and symbol in the language of Israel’s story: ‘Wind’ of creation, ‘Fire’ of Sinai. Human voices. Understanding. Babel is reversed. A light to the nations.

Christ’s Spiritually Gifted Body

1 Corinthians 12:1-31

The Spirit of the Living God Speaks – vv 1-3 The Believers in Corinth loved the work of the Holy Spirit among them and asked Paul about people and things empowered by the Spirit (pneumatikos) – not just “spiritual gifts.” Paul contrasts their experience as Gentiles (before sharing God’s promises to Abraham). They knew only voiceless idols – you could make them say anything. But the Living Spirit has a distinct will and voice. If someone is “in God’s Spirit” (like “in Christ,” “in the Lord”) they’ll never say “Jesus is Anathema.” “In Holy Spirit” is where you know “Jesus is Lord.” One Spirit Gives Life to Diverse Individuality – vv 4-11 There is One God – Spirit, Lord, God. All are working as the Spirit works. Varied gifts of grace (charisma), service/ministry (diakonia), effective works (energema) are united at source. God gives every believer a part in showing the Spirit and his work into community and world. Paul seems intentionally unsystematic. God loves and creates diversity. No two believers are the same. Our personal identity, talents, passions combine with the Spirit’s purposes.

Spiritual Life in Everyday Bodies

Galatians 5:22-26

Everyday Bodies – “Flesh” and “Spirit”

Jesus taught his disciples about the Spirit/Paraklete/Helper sent from God – both himself and the Father. Paul teaches about the Spirit in many ways, helping people who had no frame of reference to participate in the Spirit’s work in their lives. Often religious people have set Spiritual life over against bodily, this-world life, as disembodied, heavenly life. God created our bodies. He loves the physical. Spiritual life now and ultimately is life in body: now bodies and resurrection bodies. When Paul speaks of flesh, he means our ways of making our present selves the center of everything, our little gods, defining our idols of wealth, power, success, beauty, etc., defined by our limited passions and desires. Spiritual life is everyday bodily life with God at center: a whole person of body, mind, spirit, everything, as a whole creature of God. It’s life in relationship with others. It’s life that undermines idols: no limited thing or status or person or circumstance determines the worth of my life. It’s life that sees God and God’s self-giving love at the center of all. Images for Thinking about Spiritual Life

Jesus and the Wind of the Spirit

John 3:1-16

The Searcher Struggling to Understand John gives us a glimpse of a likely long, but amazing conversation. Jesus has just confronted the temple authorities and now one of them, impressed, comes to Jesus: a Pharisee, a teacher, member of Sanhedrin, open to Jesus’ teaching, affirming God’s presence. Jesus takes him seriously. He has seen signs, but they point to revealing a new reality in Jesus. He unveils the new level of God engaging humans, doing what the temple had symbolized. Birth “from above” (another) can also mean “again.” It’s misunderstood by Nicodemus. Birth from Above and the Breath of God

The Spirit’s Way of Transformation

2 Corinthians 3:1-18

Our Faces Unveiled to God’s Spirit and to Each Other

Last week we saw the whole life of God working by the Spirit in our lives to transform both the way we live now and as the creative power of new creation in the resurrection. Following Jesus, Paul reflects a lot on how he had seen the Spirit working in the lives of believers, even when they are manifesting difficult problems. His experience with the Spirit’s work has given him great confidence and boldness with all kinds of people. In 2 Cor 3:16-18 is a vision of that transforming process set in a meditation on scripture. But look at the image. A community of people, all engaged with God’s Spirit, who gives them freedom and boldness before God and with each other. Their faces (their whole person, identity, image) open to God and each other. They’re focused on seeing the reality, the glory of the Lord Jesus, who is the face / image of God and the true human. As they see it they are transformed into that image, ever increasing in the way they experience that reality/glory. But what’s in front of them is the mirror of Jesus in each other as the Spirit works in those lives to shape, challenge and embolden them toward the life given in Jesus.

God’s Spirit and the Power of Resurrection

Romans 8:9-17

Resurrection and Pentecost

Jesus forced weeks of waiting between his resurrection and the first public proclamation of the Good News. He did not allow his disciples to begin immediately. He was not beginning a political, social, or religious movement, though any human group has those aspects.

This was to be a new reality of God’s participation in the life of humans. It began in Jesus’ incarnation, consummated in his resurrection that joins physical life with the life of God in a new way. Now it was empowered by God’s Holy Spirit to bring ordinary humans into a transforming, growing experience of God’s life and love now, drawing them into the very life of Jesus by the power of his Spirit, embodying Jesus’ life of service, love of enemies, forgiveness, healing, trust in God, deep peace ... preparing for their own resurrection.