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Acts 2: 1- 21     “Power to Burn”   May 20, 2018

Rev. Jerry Krueger     Boardman United Methodist Church

 The Pentecost text we read today is about power. Power to burn away the old and to make all old things, new.  As a kid when I was particularly ramped up, my Dad would say, “Jerry has power to burn.” Abundant, endless, inexhaustible, seems to be the descriptor right?

What are some of the current and former sources of generating power and heat in the world? In the British Isles, used to be burning peat. Some places today burn wood, coal, natural gas, coal oil, diesel, and then nuclear power. Methane power, wind power, solar power.  Susan and I have a small travel trailer that has a solar panel connection built into it. It allows you to lay out solar panels that will generate power for the conveniences in the trailer.

On the Texas Gulf Coast a few years ago I saw an experimental joint venture facility between Texas A&M University, Exxon-Mobil, BP, and the US Dept. of Energy. It harnessed the endless movement of ocean waves to generate power. The world needs power, green power if possible.

Our church is replacing incandescent bulbs with LED’s bulbs that burn about 70% less power. It reduces heat and our carbon footprint. It makes good ecological sense, and good economic sense as well.

The world needs power, and the Church needs power. 

I will admit that at times I feel a bit power-less in the face of chronic hunger or homelessness, at times overwhelmed by the seemingly daunting task of pushing back on a culture that says, “people of faith are of little importance, and as are their antiquated beliefs in Christ.”

But, we people of God, offer the world a word of hope that is grounded in the promise of the gospel. The Church needs power.

On Pentecost, “Penta” from the Greek five, like pentagon, Pentecost is 50 days after Christ’s resurrection. It’s the day noting the coming of Holy Spirit power on formerly reticent, reluctant, apostles. And the Spirit turns them into God’s apostles who unleash a boundless, God breathed, God inspired, God fueled move of the Spirit onto the world.

“Suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.”

Tongues of fired rested, danced over the apostles heads, signifying these were the ones who would spread the Gospel of Christ to all who would listen.

This was not a natural gas explosion, or a wild well blowout, but it was God’s power, and a force that changed the world.

 And it is available to us today.

 If we are choosing to be part of a church that brings life, joy and fulfillment to the world around us, we need this power.  Traditional Christianity has a problem of being so life focused after death. However we can allow the Holy Spirit the opportunity to improve the quality of the Kingdom of God life, BEFORE death.

Hear this. Jesus didn’t just come to earth to prepare us for the afterlife, he came to teach us how to life a Kingdom of God life, here on earth.

Jesus says, the “Kingdom of God is within us, among us, at hand, and we are to pray that it comes on earth, as it is in heaven. The Way that we follow, is a Way to life that stands in glaring contrast to how the world would want us to live.

When Jesus comes and the power of the Spirit is unleashed upon the disciples, we know that the world is topsy turvy. The last, become first. The poor are blessed. The mighty tossed down from their thrones. Our faith offers something very different than what the world says.

The world spoke in the form of the devout Jews who were in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of weeks from every nation under heaven. And they thought the disciples were liquored up. They were drunk before lunch. And these diverse people, all speaking about 16 various languages, heard the same message from these rubes, these back water, hill people, called disciples. They were the least educated, from Appalachia, down by the Ohio River. Maybe. Yet suddenly they spoke with eloquence, fervor, faith, and …POWER!

The world can discount our actions on behalf of others. Feeding others, clothing others, caring for others. In a seemingly endless line of trouble and problems, the world says, “give up, throw some money at it, it’s not my problem, or forget it. It’s just too endlessly big and overwhelming a problem.”

But not the Holy Spirit led church.

Person by person, we move forward in an unbroken line. Faithful in the light of overwhelming odds that seem to work against us.

As a people of faith and power, we move, act and love in a way that says, “Yes, culture, society, world, you see the issues as insurmountable. But through the Holy Spirit in our lives, we see opportunity to serve others, to live and to love for Christ.”

This text points to the inverted, topsy turvy belief structure that is a part of our faith belief.

In vs. 17, typically it was the old and wise who prophesied in Jesus day. But Peter proclaims, “Your sons and daughters will prophesy”.

Young men shall see visions, not the old. Old men shall dream dreams. What? They’re near the end of their lives, how could they have dreams? The sun shifts to darkness, the moon to blood, indicating that the heavens will be realigned for God’s purposes.

Then verse 21, is a verse that fills me with hope and joy and yes, power. For the least among us, for the family, member who rejects Christ, for the one who turns away, for the one whom we maybe believe is lost to the world, there is a message of Holy Spirit power fire filled, combustible, invitation and great power for NEW life:

“Then EVERYONE who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” All. This is not universal salvation. This text does NOT say, everyone is saved. It does say, ALL who cry out to God, who ask God,  implore God, profess to God, who say, “Oh man, do I need to turn around, do I need a second chance, Lord help me.” They shall be saved.

But it’s not simply fire insurance. It’s not, check the box. Change the oil in the car, sweep the front sidewalk, call to the Lord, get saved, and continue to live a hellish life. NO. This is about allowing the power of the Spirit, to work in your life. To wipe away every tear, to wash you clean as the driven snow. To cry out to God, admit our shortcomings, our sin, and say, “I want something different in my life.  I want to be Pentecost powered, so that I will see my hungry neighbor, so I can teach English as 2nd language, so I can advocate for justice, so that as a young person I can speak truth at school, as an employer or employee I can live in a way that glorifies God.”

The power of Pentecost is the power that God has for each of you here, and those who are not here. This infusion of power, comes from the fusion of God’s love for us, as shown through the Christ, and our love for God and for one another.

Hear me church of the Holy Spirit, church of Christ, and church of the Father, of the Triune God, God’s endless and boundless power of transformative love, is here today, for you, if you but ask.

I invite you to bow your heads for a moment and to speak these words into your heart silently before God:

Lord God, through the power of the Spirit and the life death and resurrection of the Christ, today I commit myself to live for you. And for others. Wash away my sins. Guide me to live and love for you, from this day forward. I love you and ask you to be lord and savior of my heart, my family, my life, Fill me Lord Jesus, you are mine and I claim you as mine. Breathe new Holy Spirit life into me from this day forward. In Jesus blessed name. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer for the first time and committed your life to Christ, I invite you to visit with me after worship today, so that we might more fully connect with the world around us, this church and with each other. In Jesus holy name. Amen.