Reflections: June 4, 2020
Thursday of the Week of Pentecost
By Alexander Lange
And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. (Acts 2:3)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Originally Pentecost was simply the celebration of the beginning of the wheat harvest, but eventually the Jews used Pentecost to celebrate God's appearing on Mt. Sinai to give Israel the Law. When God came to Mt. Sinai, He was within a cloud, a cloud full of lightning and fire.
The presence of our God is often associated with fire. When the Holy Spirit was given to the Church on Pentecost, the disciples saw "divided tongues" that had the appearance of fire resting on each of them. The Holy Spirit is God, and the fire was a visual sign of His presence.
After God appeared on Sinai, the Israelites built the Tabernacle, which was the original Temple. God's glorious and fiery presence entered the Tabernacle. When the Spirit descended on Pentecost, He didn't descend upon a mountain or enter a building. He rested on the followers of Jesus! The Church—the assembly of believers gathered around Word and Sacrament—has become the new temple (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, Ephesians 2:19-22).
According to the Old Testament, God cannot dwell anywhere on earth unless that place has been sanctified. Sin and death are completely contrary to His nature, after all. The same Spirit who resides within your congregation sanctifies it and every individual member of it. He is called the Holy Spirit because He makes you holy. He washes away your guilt with the blood of the crucified Christ and He bestows to you the very life of the resurrected Christ.
This is why you are called a saint, a holy person. You have been sanctified. You can be sure of this, because the Holy Spirit resides in your midst, carrying out His work through Word and Sacrament. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Holy Spirit, the dove sent from heaven, Ever one with the One who is Three, From the Father You came, Words of peace to proclaim, Come and comfort us, speak tenderly. You, the fragrance of life, we are seeking; Fill Your temple, Your altar make clean. Joyous shelter of love, Gracious friend from above, In Your care we are resting, serene. ("Holy Spirit the Dove Sent from Heaven," LSB 502, st. 1)
- Rev. Alexander Lange is pastor of Holy Cross Evangelical Lutheran Church in Albany, Oregon.
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