In last week’s Children’s Message, I suggested that Jesus’ ascension was “just the beginning of something new that was a part of God’s plan.” That something new was the coming of the third person of the Trinity: the Holy Spirit—whose arrival “birthed” a new way of living and of relating to God: the Church—not a place, but a people indwelt by the very Spirit of God.
It was revolutionary—this “new part of God’s plan”—not only for those first disciples, but also, especially for those of us who choose to follow Christ today. As a story attributed to Erasmus, a Catholic priest and scholar during the Renaissance, notes, “after Jesus’ return to Heaven, the angels gathered around him to learn what had happened. Jesus told them of his miracles, his teachings, and then of his death and resurrection. When he finished, Michael the archangel asked, ‘But Lord, what happens now?’ Jesus answered, ‘I have left behind eleven faithful men who will declare my message and express my love,,,, [They] will establish and build my church.’ ‘But,’ responded Michael, ‘what if they fail? What then?’ Jesus replied, ‘There is no other plan.’”
Though a mythical tale, Erasmus’ words are compelling. We have not seen Jesus, heard Jesus, walked with Jesus like those first disciples did.
And yet, beginning with Pentecost, the work of God becomes the work of The Church—the work of all believers who, like those first followers, are empowered by God’s Spirit to continue God’s work. In this “new plan” we, the Church, are to be God’s hands. We are to be God’s feet. We are to be the ones who testify and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the world. Our voices are to speak God’s words of truth, mercy, grace, justice, and love. And if we are silent, if we fail to act, “what then?” Though I believe God’s purposes and plans can (and will) be accomplished regardless, what a tragedy if we were to miss our own purpose, to miss being used by God!
As I write this message, the world seems so bleak—millions of deaths worldwide due to COVID-19, rampant injustice and discrimination, cities and streets erupting in violence, plus a host of other ills like dishonesty, slander, and bitterness abound.
It is time for Pentecost. Time for a fresh wind to awaken and enliven us, for a Holy fire to burn within us. May God’s Spirit come anew to us this day—that we might be empowered to do, to speak, to live, to love, to be used by God to light our world!
Come, Holy Spirit, Come! Set our hearts on fire.
Below are some resources to help your child in worshipping today:
A mosaic-style picture of today’s Bible story (Pentecost—The Birthday of the Church)