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It is great to be back in church community with all of you today. These have been strange, somewhat desperate, and fearful times in our world these last 10 weeks. We have had to change just about everything in our lives in the way we live, shop, and communicate with one another. We now have forever changed the way in which we have church as well. For the time being we are taking baby steps towards our previous normal while adapting to the normal as well. Our goal is to do everything that we can to keep everyone safe in our church which includes extra cleaning and social distancing. We are living through a truly rememberable historical event.
With these last three days there have been several events that will go down in history as well. Yesterday afternoon the first privately owned space travel company launched two American astronauts into space to dock later today at the international space station. This is the first time since 2011 that American astronauts have launched from American soil. So far, this mission appears that it is going to be a great success. On another note we have at the same time been witnessing rioting, protesting, and violence of the likes that many of us have never seen. Let me first say that the death of George Floyd was tragic and should never have happened. He and his family deserve to have justice for what wrongfully happened to him. However, the violence and destruction that is happening right now will not serve any justice or peace to anyone. It will just breed more hatred and anger. Truthfully the only one who can deliver justice for what happened is the Lord. The Holy Spirit unites us all pass race, language, and ethnicity.
Our scriptures today reveal another significant act of history. The disciples were all together gathered in one place praying, worshipping, and waiting for the comforter, the Holy Spirit to come. Suddenly there was this sound like the blowing of a violent wind coming from heaven and it filled the entire house. They saw what looked like tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on them. They then began to praise the Lord but in different languages as the Holy Spirit enabled them. At that time there were Jews from many different nations staying in Jerusalem and they found it strange to hear their own language being spoken by men who should not have known their language.
I heard this week that some view this as almost like a reversal of the tower of babel event. At that time humanity was all gathered in one place building a tower to heaven in order to make a name for themselves. They were focused on worshiping self instead of worshipping God. Therefore, God confused their languages so that they would not understand each other and would have to move away to different areas of the world where they could understand others like themselves. This event divided humanity between race and ethnicity. All because of the sin of man we were divided. However, when the Holy Spirit came everything changed. It was like the language came back together. The disciples were able to speak in other languages for the purpose of ministry. Rather than separate themselves from the world they were able to unite with the world again through language. There would be no separation of race or ethnicity. There would be no division of color or shade of skin. The Holy Spirit brings us together while the evils and sins of the world divide. The day of Pentecost is a symbol of unity amongst a world of division.
In our passage today from the book of Numbers we read about how the Spirit of the Lord fell upon some of the Elders of Israel. When this happened, they began to prophesy that day but when it was over, they did not prophesy any more. However, there were to men who were also elders who did not leave the camp to go into the tent. Yet the Spirit rested on them as well and they were able to prophesy. There was a young man who ran to report this to Moses and Joshua feeling Jealousy for Moses’ sake told Moses that he should stop these men. Moses however, feels no jealousy but is pleased that this is happening and claims that he wishes all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit in them. Jealousy divides and fear divides. However, Moses was neither of these things. He felt it was more important to unite the people than divide them. If the Spirit would do that then he was pleased. A united people are a lot easier to lead than a divided people.
In John chapter 20 starting in verse 19, Jesus appears to his disciples as they are gathered with the doors locked as they are in fear. Jesus appears to take away their fear that is dividing them from the rest of the world. He tells them “Peace be with you!” He then breathes on all of them and tells them to receive the Holy Spirit. He explains that if they forgive someone their sins then they are forgiven and if they do not forgive them then they are not forgiven. This is the power of the Holy Spirit. Forgiveness unites us together while bitterness or fear separate us. It is important that we remember this in these times of fear and division.
It is my prayer on this day that we remember Pentecost that the Spirit falls on us. If the Spirit falls on us then may it unite us and bridge the gaps between anger, hatred, fear, and pain. May it instead bring peace, love, joy, and healing. May the burning, the rioting, and violence stop in our nation. May justice truly be served by the Lord God almighty. Vengeance and justice belong to him and him alone. When we try to take it in our own hands the result is just more evil and destruction on an even greater scale. However, God is a good judge and he will deliver justice where justice is due. May the Holy Spirit fall on all of you today.