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06/04/2017

Acts 2: 1-21                    “Drunk Before 9”                    6/4/2017

BUMC              Rev. Jerry W. Krueger

“Hey, I gotta tell you. You’re not going to believe what I saw yesterday. Remember I told you I was going to hear this guy, Peter?  So I hung back and listened to him say all kinds of stuff about this guy, Jesus. The one who rode in on a donkey and then got crucified a week later? Peter claims him as Messiah. Yeah, a dead crucified messiah, right? So the Jesus followers somehow knew that 50 days after Passover, something would happen and it coincided with Pentecost, you know the Festival of Weeks, the wheat harvest festival...  There are people here in Jerusalem from all over. Countries that I can’t understand what they’re saying.

Then I heard it. It sounded like a tornado, rushing wind with a deep, chest moving inner force and I became aware, something was … wrong, different, about to happen? I was scared.  And then these things looked like,.. well flames, tongues of fire had popped up over the heads of the ones they call the disciples. Then get this, the disciples are from Galilee, and we all know how linguistically inept Galileans are, they began to speak in the languages. You know, from every nation and region around us. Farsi, German, Turkish, Greek, Chinese, Berber, Basque, Portuguese, Spanish, Czech, Slavic, Caucasian, Armenian, Georgian, Dravidian, Mongol, and Hebrew languages. It was …amazing.

Only God could do that. Only God could do that. But there were some who laughed in disbelief and said, “Those guys are Galileans, they must be liquored up. Drunk before 9, filled with new wine.”  It was unbelievable.

But then Peter a Jesus follower shouted, “No we are not drunk. This is prophecy fulfilled from the OT prophet Joel. Gods spirit was poured out on all who were there who believed. Man, I don’t know what happened, but I know this. I believe. I have seen evidence of the power of the Messiah. I called out to Jesus as Lord Savior, and I know now that I am saved. It was unbelievable, and life changing.”

The area being represented today in the reading sounds like this: Spain, France, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Crete and Italy.  A diverse compilation of countries to participate and witness God’s breath. Ruach in Hebrew, pneuma in Greek, both meaning “breath.”

Skeptics abound, even in the middle of miracles. There are people who doubted that a miler could break the 4 minute mile. Roger Banister did it May 6, 1954, in a time of 3: 59:4.  We’ll never get to the moon, or have a car getting 50 miles to the gallon, or break the sound barrier

Pentecost is the birthday of the Christian church. This is the launch of new ministry. This is the jumping off point when the disciples of the Bible knew that as Holy Spirit infused, Holy Spirit anointed, Holy Spirit led disciples could never go back to the old life. They had a story to tell to the nations. That people everywhere, one by one, would WANT to hear this message of salvation. To accept, or reject it on their own.

The good old disciples. Heroes all. 8 feet tall, armored in God’s

holy armor. Never flinching, never wayward or afraid, never doubting, never questioning. People of God, hear me, they were none of those things. They were people committed to Christ, just like you and me.

The disciples dealt with joy stealers just like you and me. They lived among people who didn’t want then to be healthy and whole. They battled the same stuff we do today, like the pull of the world on people to engage in just about anything else, but holy living.

My buddy Dave struggled with alcoholism for years, and finally hit bottom, and began to go to AA. Day by day, his sobriety and faith in his higher power, allowed him to begin to clean up the debris and damage in his life. One day as we were having lunch, he mentioned that his old buddies drank in front of him, and told him that his sobriety would not last. There were some who wanted Dave to fail. It was subtle, but none the less they did not want what the best for him

But he did not fail. He has 15 years of sobriety. But things changed significantly, despite the world, in his life.

When we choose to live a life that models, strives to follow Jesus, we will meet resistance. We will meet spouses, friends, parents, kids, co-workers who do not believe our heartfelt desire to serve Christ is real.

“You’re drunk before 9AM on this Jesus thang. You’re trying to impress him or her. You’ll fall back to the old ways soon enough. You are just playing at being a good person,”  and they try to tear you down.  Like the disciples, you need a change of focus. Not hiding in the back room, avoiding the glare of life. You step out and move forward, head held high, confident in your faith. John Wesley the founder of Methodism encouraged his preachers that if they struggled with their faith at times, that they “should preach faith, until you have it.”

The gathered disciples at Pentecost did not speak in what is called glossaliola, speaking in tongues. No, they spoke in a variety of languages that different countries and regions would understand.

And as I look out at you all today, I see many of you who as disciples of Jesus Christ, speak a variety of languages. What might that be?

Some speak a language Spanish, Polish, Greek etc., sure. But other languages spoken? A language of understanding another’s hurts. A language of compassion. Language of mission, a specific mission that God has infused in you. A language of organizing. A language of invitation. A language of working with kids or youth. A language of music, or song, or instrument. A language of speaking to the stranger. A language of evangelism, and kindness and care.

In each unique way that God has gifted you, all of y’all like the disciples, have this tongue of fire, dancing over your head. Surrounding you with God’s holy light, a powerful, Holy Spirit fed flame that is life changing. It won’t be extinguished by the world, as long as we stay connected to the Christ.

This text is not just about tongues of Holy Spirit fire dancing above the disciple’s heads, or your heads. That is part of it, but this is about….proclamation. If the Gospel just lands with you and does not go forth, then it dies with you. The Gospel’s message of love, forgiveness, second and third chances, salvation, and forgiveness, is a gift from Jesus Christ, that the Holy Spirit desires us to share with another.

Simply. In a way that they understand.  Our primary task is not to be keepers of a beautiful pipe organ or building, or just to have a cozy family club where we feel good about self, and sing Kum-ba-ya. Our task as defined in the Holy Word of God, is to speak, proclaim, and witness to the power of Jesus Christ, to others.

I see the power of the Holy Spirit burning brightly within many of you. In some, the flame has lagged, dampened a bit by life, or cares, or trials, or disappointment and suffering. But God places others in your path so that you might be revived again, and have the flames of God’s power stoked in your life, so that you may bring the rushing powerful wind of the Holy Spirit, gushing and rushing into the place where you are, so others will come to hear the story of Jesus.   Hear these words proclaimed, prophesied and fulfilled on Pentecost from the prophet Joel:     17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
    and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,  and your old men shall dream dreams.
18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.   19 And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist.20 The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. 21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

And God’s people who are Spirit filled, water washed and Spirit born, said, AMEN!