“And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.” Acts 2:2-3 (NRSV)
Everybody enjoys a birthday party. Sunday, May 24, is Pentecost Sunday; it is the birthday of the church. The Book of Acts tells us that on the festival of Pentecost, after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, the Holy Spirit came upon the gathered disciples like tongues of fire. From that moment on, these early disciples were joined together not just by the ties of friendship, family and common purpose, but by the indwelling Spirit of God. That day they became the living, breathing, body of Christ sent into the world to live in bonds of love and to witness to the good news of Jesus Christ.
Pentecost symbolizes a new beginning. It celebrates the unleashing of the Holy Spirit on the world and the empowering of the church to reach the world with the gospel. As we look forward to calling the next pastor, we need a clear vision for what the church’s future mission and ministry should look like in response to changing community needs. First Presbyterian Church is participating in the New Beginnings program, which is designed to help congregations envision a new future that focuses on outward ministry to the community rather than just internal care-taking. It is mission oriented, to making disciples.
An important part of the New Beginnings program is a series “house meetings” that get underway this month. These house meetings are not meant to solve problems; they are intended be conversations to generate ideas and explore options for the congregation. The information and ideas generated will helpful in discerning the church’s future and the abilities and gifts that the next pastor will need to lead the church into that future. Therefore, your involvement in these house meetings is vitally important. Whether you are a new member, a long-time member, or not a member at all, youth or adult, we need your opinion and ideas. Additional information about these house meetings and how to sign-up for them is included in this newsletter. Please consider joining in one of the small group discussions.
The church lives today in the power of the Spirit. The late, well-known preacher, Dr. Fred Craddock, asks, “What would happen to the church if the Spirit of God were withdrawn? It could stay alive for a number of weeks, maybe even months. If you have personality and a lot of talent and a good bit of money and some projects and a few parties, a dead church can go on for weeks, delaying the inevitable obituary. The prayer of the church, ‘Do not take away Your Holy Spirit,’ is what makes us a church.” (“The Softer Side of Pentecost,” The Cherry Log Sermons, p. 69).
The Spirit fills the church with energy, imagination, intelligence and love. The Holy Spirit gives us our vision, picks us up when we fail and restores our courage. The Spirit sends us out to be bold witnesses for Christ. As the Spirit has led us in the past, we pray that the Spirit will continue to lead us into the future that God has planned for us. So we pray, “Come, Holy Spirit.”
Yours in Christ,