Happy Birthday Church!

The Birth of the Church and God’s Presence

Last Sunday was officially the birthday of the church.  Not Calvary’s specifically but rather the birthday of the beginning of a new work of God with His people.  We call that birthday Pentecost Sunday.  This Sunday has had special meaning for generations because of the critical mission that the church fulfills in making disciples.

Pentecost wasn’t originally a Christian day.  Previously, the people of God celebrated the Feast of Weeks to give thanks to God for the first fruits of their harvest.  This feast was a big event because it required that most people travel to Jerusalem, the temple specifically, to offer their sacrifices and give thanks to God.  This unique feast occurred seven weeks after Passover (49 days), culminating with the actual celebration on day 50 (hence, the New Testament term “Pentecost”).

Though primarily a festival of thanksgiving, Jews later declared the Feast of Weeks “to be the day on which God gave the law to Israel.” Recall that after leaving Egypt on Passover, the Israelites journeyed into the Sinai desert where God gave the nation, through Moses, the Ten Commandments (as well as the entire Old Testament law).  Look at this description in Exodus 19:16–20
On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. The Lord came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

Summary – smoke and fire point to God’s presence (we could cite many other biblical references, but space does not permit) as God gives His Law to his people.

I don’t think that it’s surprising that Luke records the fresh coming of the Spirit with this description In Acts 2:1-4
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Summary – God’s presence descended on God’s people, but this time was a rushing wind, fire as God writes upon their heart the law through the Spirit (see Joel 2:28-29).

Where am I going with this?

The church is a big deal – it’s God’s big plan to bring people to Himself.  Suddenly now, God is working through His Spirit, through the body of Christ, to help people know Him and make Him known.  It always ‘winds my clock’ when I step back and look at God’s big picture.  Pentecost wasn’t simply Christ expropriating another Hebrew calendar holiday, but instead, God was fulfilling His plan in the world – and this includes and the centred on the church.

The church has taken a beating this year.  We’ve been disconnected, we’ve been silent, we’ve been frustrated.  Yet, there is also much to be celebrated.  For many of us, we have been forced to see that the church doesn’t need to be complicated, but it does take commitment.  There is no such thing as a Christian who isn’t committed to the church.  God’s mission never takes a break.   We are committed to Christ’s church because God is committed to His plan, to you and me, to help others know Him.  Pentecost Sunday reminds us to check out our commitment level.

Regardless of where we are or what is happening around us, are we committed to God’s commission to make disciples through the local church?  Are you committed to His church, the bride of Christ?  The church is something we can celebrate!  Happy Birthday, Church!

Pastor Aaron Groat
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