Reflections on the Power of Pentecost

 In All Church of God, CHOG, Northeast

By Cheryl Sanders

Editor’s note—The General Assembly of the Church of God, convened in Tampa, Florida, in June last year, passed several resolutions of notable impact on the Church of God movement. One of the resolutions presented by the Justice and Equity Task Force called for an “Annual Pentecost Sunday Celebration” across Church of God congregations in the United States and Canada as a celebration of diversity: “…Be it therefore resolved that the General Assembly direct Church of God Ministries to coordinate a celebration of our multi-ethnic identity which was birthed by the Holy Spirit, by designating Pentecost Sunday as a day to celebrate and challenge the church to remember this is what we believe and this is who we are as a Movement….” One of the pastors responsible for proposing the resolution is Dr. Cheryl J. Sanders, of Third Street Church of God in Washington, D.C. Her church is one of many congregations of the Church of God that specifically celebrated Pentecost Sunday this year, and her reflections (preached from the Third Street pulpit) aptly describe the impact of such an intentional decision.

When the day of Pentecost came, all the believers were gathered together in one place. Suddenly there was a noise from the sky which sounded like a strong wind blowing, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire which spread out and touched each person there. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak. There were Jews living in Jerusalem, religious people who had come from every country in the world. When they heard this noise, a large crowd gathered. They were all excited, because all of them heard the believers talking in their own languages. In amazement and wonder they exclaimed, These people who are talking like this are Galileans! How is it, then, that all of us hear them speaking in our own native languages? We are from Parthia, Media, and Elam; from Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia; from Pontus and Asia, from Phrygia and Pamphylia, from Egypt and the regions of Libya near Cyrene. Some of us are from Rome, both Jews and Gentiles converted to Judaism, and some of us are from Crete and Arabia—yet all of us hear them speaking in our own languages about the great things that God has done! Amazed and confused, they kept asking each other, What does this mean? But others made fun of the believers, saying, These people are drunk!” —Acts 2:1–13 GNT

The observance of Pentecost Sunday prompts us to take note of five ways the power of the Holy Spirit was at work in the church on the day of Pentecost, and to consider how the Spirit works as we gather for prayer and worship in our own time:

  • Sustained meetings of people who love Jesus and were obedient to the directions Jesus gave them to meet for prayer in Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit;
  • Supernatural manifestations—the noise of the wind in the house drew a crowd, and the flames of fire on each believer reminds us of the call of Moses from the burning bush;
  • Spoken message—heard by everyone in every language, every word giving glory to God;
  • Salvation mandate—when people asked, “What we must do to be saved?” they were given a clearly defined path of confession, repentance, and forgiveness to find salvation; and a
  • Shared mission of education, evangelism and community engagement: “The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers.” Acts 2:42 CEB

At Pentecost there were critics and skeptics who mocked the believers and accused them of being drunk. Peter responded with rigor and righteousness, presenting a rigorous intellectual discourse based on interpretation of Scripture in conversation with current events (Acts 2:14–40) and implementing communal spiritual disciplines that unified the believers and new converts in reconciling interactions and prayer (2:42–47).

Let the power of Pentecost continue to work in us!

Share your Pentecost story, or any story of God at work in your local church, at https://cgm.formstack.com/forms/sharethestory. Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.

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