This week we will celebrate the Festival of Pentecost, the culmination of the season of resurrection which began on Easter Sunday. Some think of Pentecost as the “birthday of the Church.” Luke the Evangelist, writer of the gospel that bears his name and of a sequel, the Book of Acts, certainly helps that along a bit. The prayers, expectations, and announcements of the first chapter of Luke and the first chapter of Acts set the scene for God to break into human history. First, in the birth of the Messiah, fulfilling the prophecies of Jewish scripture. Then in the events of Pentecost which are the fulfillment of the prophet Joel’s vision.
In Luke, Jesus is baptized by the Holy Spirit as it descends upon him. A voice announces, “You are my Son, the Beloved.” (Luke 3:21-22) At Pentecost, the Spirit falls upon the followers of Jesus and as Paul will so powerfully preach, they (and we) will become the children of God, heirs of the reign of God. (Romans 8:17) In Luke’s two-part story of Jesus, what happens to Jesus happens to his followers. What is true of Jesus becomes true of his followers. What Jesus does, his followers do.
This summer the theme of our worship and preaching will reflect this spiritual reality. Born of the Spirit. Children of God. points us to the reality of our relationship with God in Christ. To be born of the Spirit is to be called to follow, gathered in unity, and made holy for the work of the reign of God. (Luther’s Small Catechism)
There is no more important message for us and this world than to know that we are Born of the Spirit. Children of God. To be born of the Spirit means that what shapes us and molds our existence is not the doomed values and false agendas of a world dedicated to self-interest, greed, division, violence and all else that is committing us to death and filling us with despair. It means that we are shaped by the heart and will of the Living God revealed in Christ. It means that joy and hope are part and parcel of our life because they are given by the Spirit.
To be children of God is an unassailable mark of our identity that no other epithet or label can diminish. You cannot be a loser, a failure, evil, or unacceptable when you are a child of the God who raised Jesus from the dead.
In this summer season, we invite you to worship, pray, and journey with us as we explore what it means to be Born of the Spirit. Children of God.
Tim Olson - Lead Pastor