5-13-16 - Everybody in the Pool

One of the amazing aspects of the Pentecost story is how the apostle Peter interprets it as he is experiencing it. When Jesus’ followers get slam-dunked by the Holy Spirit and go out and start proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ in languages they don’t know, some observers scoff, "they must be drunk on new wine.” But Peter begins to preach to the whole crowd, saying, “We’re not drunk; it’s nine o’clock in the morning, folks! God is up to something – and it’s something God has been promising for a very long time.”

“…this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘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.”

This idea of God’s Spirit poured out on all of humanity is pretty startling. What about being holy enough? What about being part of the tribe? What about correct understanding of theology? What about wanting God’s Spirit poured out upon you? All flesh? Really? Everybody?

That’s the vision the prophet Joel had spoken of old, and that’s where Peter found the scriptural basis to anchor this bizarre turn of events. It would be some years before he finally understood just how radical God’s welcome to people outside the House of Israel truly was, but even here, at the beginning, he understands that this outpouring of God-Life is not to be reserved to a chosen few. God wants to give his Spirit to everyone God has created.

So, does one have to be a Christian to receive the Holy Spirit? Somewhere in the New Testament it says something about needing the spirit of Christ to recognize the Spirit of Christ… but could there be people who don’t yet know Jesus as Lord and Savior, but revere his spirit, as do Muslims and many Jewish and Baha'i people? I’ve known many who seem Spirit-filled, even manifesting gifts of the Spirit. Perhaps God’s Spirit is poured out upon everyone who recognizes the power of sacrificial love. After all, the water in a pool gets everybody in it wet, no distinctions. Is the same true of our Living Water? (By which John said Jesus meant the Spirit...)

My prayer is that those of us who do know Jesus as Lord, and worship him, might desire the filling of the Holy Spirit, so that we can more actively share that Spirit outside our communities. This Sunday, the congregation of Christ the Healer will gather briefly for prayer in our sanctuary, and then head downtown to a centrally located park and have a “Pop-Up Pentecost” service. I don’t know how the Spirit will bless and empower us – but I believe that if we show up and say, “Fill me,” the Spirit will show up too. What happens next, is anyone’s guess!

(If you’re in the Stamford area, join us at Latham Park at 11 on Sunday – and wear red!)

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