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Rev. Michelle's Message May 16, 2024


This Sunday is Pentecost and while Unity celebrates Christmas and Easter, we don’t often mark some of the lesser Christian holy-days. However, I find Pentecost to be a really interesting holiday because it commemorates the day the Holy Spirit came upon the followers of Jesus, imbuing them with the power that would enable them to keep Jesus’ message alive and begin to spread it around the world.


Pentecost, also known as the Feast of Harvest or the Feast of Weeks, is an ancient Jewish holiday that has been celebrated since the times of the Old Testament. The word Pentecost actually means “fifty” and on the Christian liturgical calendar, Pentecost always occurs 50 days after Easter. Because the date upon which Easter falls changes each year, so does Pentecost. While Pentecost is not usually celebrated in as big a way as Easter or Christmas, it is actually a very important day in the Christian calendar.


The story of Pentecost can be found in the book of Acts, thought by most scholars to have been written by the same author as the Gospel of Luke. Therefore, the two books are often referred to by scholars as Luke-Acts. The story can be found in the second chapter of Acts and takes place after Jesus’ ascension into heaven. It begins with the disciples and other followers of Jesus gathering together in Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish Feast of Weeks.


As they were gathered together at table, they suddenly heard the sound of a strong wind coming from heaven, which blew into the house where they were gathered. Then they saw many tongues of fire which came to rest on each of them. In that moment, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in many different languages. A crowd gathered and the people were amazed to hear Jesus’ followers speaking the languages of so many different peoples.


Peter stood up to address the crowd and urged the people to repent of their sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. Then, they too would be filled with the Holy Spirit, he said. That day, 3,000 people joined the Jesus movement, or the new “church.”


My favorite part of the story comes at the end, when it describes the fellowship of believers. It tells how the new followers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the breaking of bread and to prayer. They pooled their resources and shared what they had. They sold their possessions and property in order to give to those who were in need. After that, the new fellowship continued to gather together each day to break bread and eat together in their homes, with glad and sincere hearts.


The story of Pentecost is really the story of how the Christian church began. I love it because it reminds me that it all started with people gathering together in their homes to share a meal together, to remember Jesus, and to try to understand and follow his teachings. They shared what they had and helped those in need. For me, this is what is inspirational about the Jesus movement. Before there were cathedrals and popes and bishops and vestments and sacraments, the early Christians were simply people who gathered together to try to be better people and to help one another.


I love that this is the way Christianity began. It inspires me to want to get back to the basics of the faith and try to get ever closer to Jesus’ actual teachings. As we wrap up our series on Deconstructing and Reconstructing Jesus this Sunday, I hope you have found some inspiration in what I have shared with you about Jesus and the way I and many others understand him. I also hope you have begun your own journey to discovering who and what Jesus is to you. Whether you consider yourself a Christian or not is a personal matter and is really not the point. The important thing is whether you find value and inspiration and challenge in Jesus’ teachings, and if his words and deeds as described in the gospels have transformative power for you in your own life.


To me, the Holy Spirit is simply the activated power of God’s goodness. It is that which moves in and through us and compels us to be better human beings and to do good in the world. Like the apostles, when we gather together to study Jesus’ teachings and the human virtues he modeled for us, the Holy Spirit will come upon us too, enabling us to live and demonstrate those teachings in our own lives in order to make a better world for all of us.


Many Blessings,

Rev Michelle


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