This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on June 4, 2017.
The Lord Jesus always keeps his promises in his time and in his ways. He promised after he went away, the Holy Spirit would come to his disciples as a Helper to comfort, empower, and guide them in their gospel witness and work (John 16:5-15; Acts 1:1-8). On the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1), the timing was right for the fulfillment of this eternity-altering promise to unfold. The symbolism intertwined with the fulfillment of this promise is worth noticing while watching this holy moment initiated “from heaven” and instituted “on earth” take place (cf. Matthew 6:10).
Luke tells his readers the effects surrounding the Holy Spirit’s entrance came “from heaven” that included sounds like “a mighty rushing wind,” sights of “divided tongues as of fire” and results of those in the room who “began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:2-4). This promise was fulfilled after Jesus had ascended to heaven. Once Jesus was present in heaven, the creative power of God’s Spirit came down “from heaven” to enable the next phase of God’s redemptive work to be done “on earth.” The presence of God could begin in a new way on this historically significant day “on earth as it is in heaven.”
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on May 15, 2016.
It has been said that often we are in the midst of a history-making, life-altering moment and do not realize the full impact of it until much later. Certainly, the Americans who were alive on November 22, 1963 instantly were aware that a horrific tragedy had occurred. However, they never could have dreamed that the assassin’s bullet that pierced the bright Texas morning would also shatter the foundation of trust and comfort on which American culture rested. The iconic photographs of an American President and First Lady hugging strangers and then riding in an unprotected vehicle with Secret Service agents nowhere near them would never be repeated. Rules changed, laws were passed, and Presidential limousines would henceforth be fortified to withstand bombs and equipped with everything from a self-sustaining oxygen supply to several units of blood matching the President’s blood type. The same lack of awareness of history-writing moments could be said of September 11, 2001. All Americans knew they were witnessing the unthinkable as they watched two airplanes obliterate two towers and almost 3,000 lives. However, they did not know that within hours armed soldiers would be patrolling every airport in America. They did not know that the airplane rides they casually used for business or family vacations would forever become tedious hours of scrutiny, security screening, and unending stress. In a matter of minutes—in 1963 and again in 2001 and many times before and since—life changed, and nothing would ever be the same. The same is true for individual lives. A child learns to walk or talk, a job is lost, a tumor is found, a promotion is awarded—for good and for bad, life changes in an instant, and nothing is ever the same again.