Rustlings (May 14, 2018)

‘It was a holy mess!’ I’m just guessing these words were spoken by several of the persons who attended the Pentecost service recorded in Acts 2. On the trip home or around the supper table that evening, I have no doubt someone said of the service, “It was a holy mess!” As was their custom, a large portion of the Jewish population in Palestine had made their way to Jerusalem for this second pilgrimage feast in the Jewish liturgical year. The pilgrimage feast of Passover had occurred fifty days prior commemorating the Israelite escape from Egyptian bondage. The pilgrimage feast of Succoth (Booths) – remembering God’s care during their wilderness wanderings – would occur as many days after, but in Acts 2, the second pilgrimage of Pentecost is being observed – the remembrance of Moses’ reception of the law at Sinai. This was not the ‘first’ Pentecost celebration in history. It had been celebrated about a thousand times between Moses and Jesus. But this time, rather than simply moving through the traditional elements of the celebration, a rushing mighty wind filled the room, tongues that looked like fire rested on the people, preaching broke out, and it turned into a holy mess!

This Sunday, May 20, we will celebrate Pentecost at First Baptist Greenville. It is going to be a holy mess! Embedded in our worship will be all of our worship traditions: prelude, hymns, prayers, litanies, scripture readings, right up to the postlude. We will also encourage our worshipers to wear the traditional color of red that Sunday. But in addition to these traditions, we are going to watch the Spirit fall on large numbers of people. We are going to bless our graduates on Pentecost. We are going to commission our summer mission teams, summer workers and new Stephen Ministers. We will embrace a world mission project in which the whole church can participate… and who knows, a little preaching might even break out. Pull something red out of your closet, grab your place in a pew, buckle up and enjoy Pentecost. It’s going to be a wonderful, beautiful, inspiring holy mess.

— Jim