1When the day of Pentecost had come, [the apostles] were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
5Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”
14But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
17‘In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
18Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
19And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
20The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
21Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ ”
The Word of the Lord.
Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
24How manifold are your works, O Lord!
In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
25Yonder is the sea, great and wide, with its swarms too many to number,
living things both small and great.
26There go the ships to and fro,
and Leviathan, which you made for the sport of it.
27All of them look to you
to give them their food in due season.
28You give it to them; they gather it;
you open your hand, and they are filled with good things.
29When you hide your face, they are terrified;
when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
30You send forth your Spirit, and they are created;
and so you renew the face of the earth.
31May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
O Lord, rejoice in all your works.
32You look at the earth and it trembles;
you touch the mountains and they smoke.
33I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
I will praise my God while I have my being.
34May these words of mine please God.
I will rejoice in the Lord.
35bBless the Lord, O my soul.
14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
The Word of the Lord.
The Holy Gospel according to Saint John 14:8-17 [25-27]
8Philip said to [Jesus,] “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” 9Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
15“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
[25“I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”]
The Gospel of our Lord.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I don’t care what anyone else may say – I have always believed that digging into the Bible is totally cool. I know from experience that spending time reading the Bible can be both intriguing and just plain awesome.
And reading the Bible with other people is even better! Seriously – I am so not kidding! Sunday school is often the highlight of my work week. And I absolutely – positively love hard questions. Hearing other folk’s thoughts on and interpretations of tricky Bible passages brings me great joy.
And I am constantly amazed how 2 people can hear such different things from the very same Bible passage.
I am intrigued how we can have such different perspectives on what we have read.
Over and over again – I find myself declaring – “Wow – I never thought of that.” Or thinking – “I have read that verse at least 50 times over the years and I never saw that. That’s so cool!” (Or – maybe – every once in a while – “that’s totally bananas . . .” But – I only ever think that every once in a blue moon . . . Pat . . .)
Digging in and engaging with God’s Word is incredibly important because we can learn so much about our God there. We meet our God in the pages of our Bibles. We learn about who our God is. What our God is like. And how other people of faith have experienced God and God’s presence in their lives.
Our God doesn’t have to be a distant stranger to us!
Some verses in the Bible speak to us about God’s love. Think of those powerful verses in Saint Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. [Love] does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; [Love] does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. [Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
That is the way God loves you!
John 3:16 boldly declares to us that our God is so gloriously merciful and gracious and filled with love that he willingly sacrificed his beloved son for us . . . Think about that . . . Try to really image that!
John 3:16 will really blow your mind if you listen to it with an open mind and heart – “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish – but may have eternal life.”
Our God’s grace really is AMAZING! God did that for us!
The 23rd Psalm reminds us of our God’s steadfast faithfulness even when we are faced with the loneliness and heartache of death. God the Father is our Good Shepherd who is with us no matter what! Who is present and walks with us always and forever.
Still other verses like the opening chapters of Genesis and the book of Revelation tell us so beautifully and vividly of our God’s magnificence and mighty power.
I could go on and on about what the Bible has to teach us about our God (and you all know that I HAVE!)
But the point is – we get to know God better as we explore God’s Word.
And over time – many Christians find there are verses and sections of God’s Word that they are particularly drawn to. That they return to again and again.
For me – Psalm 104 is one of those special parts of scripture. I especially love verse 26 – because it speaks such a powerful message to us about our God. A message we all need to know – to absorb and to remember.
Verse 26 of Psalm 104 declares – “There go the ships to and fro – and Leviathan – which you made for the sport of it.”
The NIV translates this verse – “There the ships go to and fro – and Leviathan – which you formed to frolic there.
And the Message translation says this – “Ships plow those waters and Leviathan your pet dragon – romps in them.”
It would be easy to miss if you were zoning out a little bit or reading pretty quickly – but Psalm 104 declares that our God made a pet dragon just for fun!
I love this verse because – it reminds us that although our God is amazing and awesome and powerful and mighty and strong – God can also be whimsical. Yes – our God is all of those fancy words like omnipresent and omnipotent and triune. AND our God has a playful side too.
Psalm 104 tells us that sometimes – our God does things simply because it is delightful and joyful and whimsical and fun!
Our God values fun and joy and happiness. I mean seriously – a pet dragon – created just for fun?!?!?!? That seems to me to be a bold declaration of a being who deeply values joyfulness and creativity and happiness and fun.
Yes – our God makes serious demands of us. Our God calls us to be his disciples in this world. To feed and care for those in need. But – there is more to faith and our God than that. There is joy – laughter – happiness – fun and even whimsy from time to time too.
I encourage you to remember that our God is many things. God is gracious. God is merciful. God is calling you to do his work in this world. God is very demanding of us and has high expectations. And our God is fun and joyful and whimsical too!
Our God is many – many things. Truly this is Good News! Amen.