- Written by Pastor Shawn Nettleton Pastor Shawn Nettleton
- Created: 28 May 2014 28 May 2014
Growing up in Crescent City, California, I experienced a lot of rain. Crescent City is actually known as the wettest part of California. It receives on average seventy plus inches of rainfall a year. I'm quickly learning that here in Fort Collins, we are thankful for rain when it comes! I’ve experienced a lot of rain in life, some good downpours and thunderstorms. But not until I moved out to the Midwest had I ever experienced a real downpour of rain. There are times when it seems as if someone is standing over you with a bucket and dumping it on you!!
As we approach Pentecost Sunday, we recall and celebrate the pouring out of the promised Holy Spirit. The new age of the Spirit has begun. Like a tropical or Midwestern rain storm, God’s Spirit is poured out, given generously and abundantly. On Pentecost Sunday we don't just celebrate something that happened to those first Christians some two thousand years ago, but something that continues to happen in the here and now. And yet, it's easy to look around us and wonder if God's Spirit is at work by what we see and by what we experience.
“As a Pastor you must get to experience and see some really great things,” I've heard people say. This is true! It is a privilege to be an under-shepherd and witness God at work in His people. But I also see some pretty tough and not so good things too. I've seen people who are hurting physically and emotionally, people grieving the loss of a loved one, people struggling with prolonged cancer and people revolting against God. I've seen families broken by sin and children growing up in broken homes. I see what you see, the reality of sin and living in a fallen world, and it is discouraging at times.
God's life-giving Spirit poured out at Pentecost on the first disciples, empowered men and women who were scared, weak and terrified to go out and take on the world, risking life and limb for the sake of the Gospel! And yet, after Pentecost and the mass conversion of people that day, life and ministry were hard. Ministry after Pentecost, as recorded in the book of Acts, is messy. Just ask Peter, Stephen or the others who were jailed, persecuted and martyred for the faith.
In the midst of struggle and hardship, trial and temptation, God kept His promise to abide with His people (John 14:23), to lead them into to all truth (John 14:25-26; 16:13), to give them strength and courage (Luke 24:49), and lead them out to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8). The theme of the book of Acts can be wrapped up in its first eleven verses; the disciples are to be Christ's witness in Jerusalem and to the ends of the earth. Interestingly, the ending of Acts is left open-ended. Luke tells us that Paul goes to Rome to testify to Caesar, to have his trial, but we are never told what happens. We don't hear what happens to Paul because the story continues!
In the midst of sin, brokenness and disappointment, it may not seem like Jesus Christ is Lord of all or that His Spirit is at work in the Church, in the world or even in our lives. But as I write this article, many people are working here at Saint John's preparing for a garage sale to support mission work, preparing for Vacation Bible School, making quilts for Lutheran World Relief and others in need, running our Food and Clothing Bank, and more. As you read this article, many are preparing to go to Peru to do mission work there this summer. As I write this, you in the various vocations in your life are witnesses of the risen Christ to those who don’t yet know Him. The Spirit is indeed at work! Pentecost was just the beginning! Blessed Pentecost!