Monday, March 24, 2008

March 24, 2008

A “Go With God” moment.

Welcome back from Easter “Holy-day.” As an aside, but I’ve heard too many times, people saying, “Have a great Easter Break”; as if this is time off to rest or to catch up on work that you are behind on. Rather, the reason IWU dismisses classes on Good Friday and the Monday after Easter, is clearly missional; so you can focus your attention on worship with family and friends on the most important “Holy-Day” of the year.

Did you also note that Easter is the end of Lent? We have spent the last six weeks preparing ourselves, through personal denial to be ready for Easter…and now its over. So now we as Christians can now put the spiritual stuff to rest until the end of the semester? Right? I mean nothing comes after Easter of any significance until Advent and Christmas. Nothing tops the Resurrection, right? Well, maybe Easter is the catalyst of another event in the life of the church is not yet completed; Pentecost. Originally, Pentecost was one of the three main pilgrimage feasts in the life of ancient Israel. It comes 50 days after Passover, with the celebration of the harvest. In the early church it also commemorates the arrival of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the praying 120. According to Luke’s theology, it is the climax of the promise made by the Father (Luke 24:45-49). Wow, the Resurrection is not the trump card? And it is what the early church was instructed to wait for in Acts 1:4-8. We are not to wait for the returning Christ, but to wait for the Holy Spirit.

May I put it to you simply? Jesus’ death and resurrection is not only to serve as a means of forgiving your sins. If that is the way you view Easter, your thinking is far too reductionistic, self-centered, and reeks of a modern western individualism. Read that statement as follows, “Easter is all about my (singular) relationship to Jesus.” Rather, the New Testament as a whole understands Easter as a precursor for making possible the shaping of the Body of Christ into His Image here on earth. This is almost exclusively portrayed in the New Testament in a corporate/community sense, not individually. Maybe we can think of Pentecost this way, “Through the Power of the Holy Spirit, WE are being fashioned into ONE.” Those are not really my original thoughts, but they are a paraphrase of Jesus’ prayer to His Father in John 17. Remember that John chapters 14-16, at least in part, are about the Gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus actually tells the disciples that “it is or your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7)

Now, listen to the Son pray:
“My prayer is not for them [disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21).

Think of it this way, Easter and the Ascension lay the groundwork for Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the church; empowering us to live a “Christ-like life.” And that Christ-like life is best described in “one-ness.” And the best model is the Trinity. The concept of Pentecost should be that we resemble the relationship of the Father-Son-Holy Spirit. And if you say, “That’s impossible,” I dare say, you have just limited the work of God in your life. Make that our life. For your faith indeed impacts my life, for good or for...well you get the picture.

So, for the next several weeks in the Monday Memo, we will be looking at what a “Spirit-filled Body” should look like. Think of this as Lenten preparation, Part 2.

BTW, Pentecost Sunday is May 11.

Let the preparation begin. Maybe begin by asking yourself these questions:

  1. What is the purpose of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church?
  2. What is the purpose of the Holy Spirit in my life?
  3. Is there a difference and if so, why?


BTW, Pentecost Sunday is May 11.

Lord Jesus;
We desperately need the power of Your Spirit in our lives.
But Jesus, power as You define it, not my concept
Make it Your Will and Your way.
I want nothing short of Your work.
Make me an instrument for the world to see You.
You may begin today.
Amen

Now, Go with God.

1 comment:

Bitty said...

The last few years I've found myself falling in love with Easter as an intensely rich holy day. I think what sums it up for me is the moment on the church calendar at which we are reminded that Christ "makes all things new." Resurrection, celebrated at springtime, always pushes my mind eschatologically outward, longing for the day when the earth will be reborn, dead friends will rise, and hoping that the "already/not yet" will ferment like rising yeast as the Holy Spirit makes us new, this year.