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The Power of Pentecost

"On the day of Pentecost, all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability." Acts 2:1-4

As we celebrated Pentecost this last weekend, I found myself pondering that first Pentecost. We know what to expect when we come in on Pentecost Sunday; there will be throughout the sanctuary decorations of red, yellow, and orange representing the tongues of fire. Many congregations like my own will be expecting the clergy to robe with red stoles. Pastors will speak in many worship spaces on the first infilling of the Holy Spirit that created the church. But that first Pentecost after Christ's ascension surprised everyone!

It was on that day that the gospel message was preached for the first time. And three thousand people became believers and "were baptized and added to the church that day." In the following weeks and months, many more believers were added to the church. The church in the first century grew exponentially even though the Jewish leaders were hunting them down and killing them.

Then Jesus told them, "You will indeed drink from my bitter cup and be baptized with my baptism of suffering." Mark 10:39

Jesus had warned his disciples that they would suffer for him, and though when he was alive, they avoided suffering as much as possible, going so far as to deny knowing Christ. After the resurrection, they were so empowered by the Holy Spirit that not only did they risk death for the gospel, but they "left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus." (Acts 5:41)

After John and Peter were called before the high council, the disciples knew they needed help from God, so they prayed for courage. The apostles poured out their hearts to God, "And now, O Lord, hear their threats and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus." Acts 5:29-30.

God answered their prayer, and they gained the courage to speak out against the wishes of the powerful Jewish leaders. I believe the courage that God gave the disciples then is still available to us today. Our celebrations of Pentecost may never equal that of the Pentecost of the first century, but I believe God can and will fill our sanctuaries with such power from the Holy Spirit that we will also see many believers added to our numbers from the gospel preached in our churches today.

Being a new denomination, the Global Methodist Church has the opportunity to develop a church that incorporates what made the early church grow so quickly and spread so far. Our focus has to be on courage, evangelism, unity, and the power of God. All of these are available to us through prayer. I believe every GMC church that makes prayer a priority, not just with the leaders but also throughout the laity, will see the signs and wonders that Peter and John witnessed.

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