Tag Archives: Pentecost

Miami Heat and Pentecost

Wade, Bosh and James of the Heat

I have been watching the NBA Finals this week: Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks.  The Heat made news last summer when they brought together superstars LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.  With such individual firepower the Heat was expected to walk away with the championship.  But individual superstars do not make a team so right now Dallas is ahead in the series three games to two.  Even though Miami has more talent, they are not playing together well, especially in the fourth quarter. 

The Finals have me thinking about the TEAM of Pentecost.  One of the amazing things about Pentecost is that the Holy Spirit came mightily to the assembled disciples as a team.  The Spirit did not just “zap” Peter and have him preach.  The tongues of fire were on the whole group, anointing them to be the Body of Christ together. In the Old Testament God’s Spirit anointed individuals like Moses or Elijah.  Now the whole church has the power.

 I think as Americans we struggle with the significance of community.  My college history professor contrasted the colonies in New England with those of Virginia.  The New England colonies were community-based with people living in town together. The Virginia colonists were scattered on large plantation where the individual made his way in the new land.  After contrasting the two models my professor emphasized that the Virginia model became our American ideal of the rugged individualist who makes it through the world by him or herself.

Even in matters of faith we often disparage community. As Americans, we tend to focus on our individual faith and commitment, how our personal faith is a private matter of the heart.  Organized religion is suspect for being “organized.”

Yet we all live in community and our faith is rarely a total individual experience.  We learn from others: parents, teachers, pastors, and spiritual leaders.  We read books written by others, sing songs written by others, and reflect upon questions asked by others.  Our faith can be deeply personal, but needs a community to thrive and live.  The Holy Spirit does not leave us isolated but calls us to trust, live and serve together as the Christ’s body in the world.

How are you living your faith in community with others?

Lord Jesus, keep the Holy Spirit active in us so we can be the Body of Christ together.  

Down and Out

Peter at Pentecost by artist Henry Martin

Last night I met with an amazing group of people who are passionate about using their gifts and strengths for God’s kingdom through Resurrection Lutheran. We are working as a team to prepare for a workshop titled “Discover Your Call – Uncovering Your Dependable Strengths” on November 4 and 5.   The workshop will equip members of Resurrection for service in the world.  

In preparation we watched part of a DVD from Luther Seminary that emphasized the concept that God came “down” to us in Jesus Christ, so we don’t need to “climb” up to God through our actions or good deeds.  As one speaker said, “God does not need your good works. Your neighbor does.”  God calls us to use our gifts and strengths “out” in the world for our neighbor.  Thus the title of the DVD: “Down + Out: Where Grace Takes You.    

God has created each of us with dependable strengths.  God “wires” each of us differently with different abilities, passions and dreams.  Isolated each of us can do a little, but together as the church we can do so much more.  The church is a movement of people, working together to bring healing and hope to a broken world.  The church is not simple to gather in a building and feel good about ourselves.  No, we are to go OUT.

We are to be God’s hands and feet, his voice and presence among the people we interact with each day. This is what Lutheran mean by the word: vocation or calling.  God calls us to serve in the world.

On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit pushed the disciples out into a confused, perplexed world.   Peter was called to preach, but all the disciples had to use their gifts and strengths once the people responded to Peter’s message about Jesus.  They each used their dependable strengths to lead the church out of Jerusalem and into every corner of the world.

What are your dependable strengths and how are you using them in your calling?

Lord Jesus, help me to discover my dependable strengths and to use them for service in your world.


Organizational Care

Seth Godin, wrote an intriguing post recently about caring and organizations:

No organization cares about you. Organizations aren’t capable of this.

Your bank, certainly, doesn’t care. Neither does your HMO or even your car dealer. It’s amazing to me that people are surprised to discover this fact.

People, on the other hand, are perfectly capable of caring. It’s part of being a human. It’s only when organizational demands and regulations get in the way that the caring fades.

If you want to build a caring organization, you need to fill it with caring people and then get out of their way. When your organization punishes people for caring, don’t be surprised when people stop caring.

I began to wonder if that is true of a congregation.  Certainly one of the confessed values of a Christian congregation is to care, to love, to be like Jesus. But what does care look like?  Here leadership is essential. Leadership within the congregation can promote a culture of care, can model what caring looks like, and how collectively and individually we care.

Pentecost by artist Jean Sader

This Sunday is Pentecost, the church holiday in which we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to ignite the birth of the church. Fifty days after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the first disciples remained huddled in a room in Jerusalem.  As described in Acts 2, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was dramatic: a mighty rush of wind, tongues of fire on people’s heads, and multiple languages suddenly heard.  A huge crowd gathered outside the room, amazed, perplexed, confused.  What was this?

Here is where caring leadership stepped up.

 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd. Act 2:14

Peter took the leadership role and modeled how this new community would express itself.  He cared for the assembled crowd by telling them the story of Jesus Christ and how his life, death and resurrection had changed the world.  His words were tough at time, reminding the people of their participation in Jesus’ crucifixion.  Yet Peter, with the support of the eleven, did the most loving thing possible: he called people to trust in Jesus.  At Resurrection, we would say Peter “called all people to a vibrant life of faith in Christ.”

How does the church promote or restrict caring?

Lord Jesus, teach me to care as you cared for others.