JUNE 1, 2018
I’ve been having some fun with those of you who emailed me this week already preparing for Sunday’s pop-quiz on the three points from last week’s sermon. Spoiler alert – there will be another pop-quiz and the sermon is online! Well, one of the points from last Sunday’s sermon was that the people of God who gathered on the Day of Pentecost were amazed and undoubtedly they should have been amazed. Tongues of fire, gale force winds from heaven, speaking in different languages?! I should say amazed. But what’s interesting is that in Acts 2:11 it says that they were amazed hearing “them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” What if they were amazed at what they heard? And what they heard were testimonies of God’s power! And my friends, hearing God’s deeds of power leaves us feeling amazed. Which is to say that central to Pentecost and to the birth of the Church is the hearing of God’s deeds of power. It’s hearing the power of testimony. It’s hearing people stand up and tell others what God has done in their lives. It’s the witnessing of old people and young people and lifelong believers and new coming Christians who testify to what God has done in their lives. This is what leaves us amazed!
And while it just might be easy to brush these deeds of power off as something contained to the pages of the Bible, go ahead and ask Ray Ondrejka who stood unemployed a few years ago and now manages a team of people in the city. Be amazed at God’s deeds of power. Or go ahead and ask Kenny Gardiner who today is celebrating eight years, five months and 25 days of sobriety. Be amazed at God’s deeds of power. Or go ahead and ask Pastor Mel who at 90-years old stared cancer down in the face and now basks in the glory of remission. Be amazed at God’s deeds of power. One of the gifts of the church is the power of testimony. When the Holy Spirit stirs within people, they are amazed to see the powerful deeds of God in their life.
What deeds of power would people be hearing from your life? A prayer request that has been answered? An attitude that has been changed? A relationship that has been restored? An addiction that has been conquered? A cancer that has been faithfully endured? A purpose re-discovered? Each of us have some deep experience of God’s power in our lives, and sharing these experiences with others will most definitely leave others amazed.
I often wonder what keeps us from sharing these experiences of God’s power. Is it the fear of coming across as pious? Or maybe for the sake of pride, we keep them to ourselves. Or perhaps it’s just easier to lean into St. Francis and “Preach the gospel always and if necessary use words.” I think we like that a lot. And we should. But there is also great power when the people of God give witness to the working of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
For centuries, the public witness of God’s deeds of power within people’s lives has been central to the life and more importantly to the growth of the Church. I think a lot of times, we Reformed people aren’t always comfortable with such a public demonstration of faith and to be honest, shame on us. Now that’s not an indictment on the way many of us were brought up in the Christian faith. But I do wonder if it is not a learning area for us still today. Just think about how powerful it was to see all those cardboard testimonies on Easter Sunday. Now, just think how much more powerful it could be if we actually told someone about that event or experience. On that first day of Pentecost, the crowd was amazed at hearing God’s deeds of power. Our crowd might be our neighbor, the person sitting next to you on the train, a family member or even the teller at the bank. On this day, will you share with your crowd God’s deeds of power in your life?
Grace & Peace,