The following reflection on Pentecost was written in 2000 by Bishop G. Lindsey Davis, now episcopal leader of the Kentucky Annual Conference and the Red Bird Missionary Conference.
In many of our United Methodist churches, Pentecost Sunday will be observed only casually. For still others, no mention of Pentecost will be made at all.
It wasn’t that way in the early church! For the first 200 years of the Christian faith, there was only one major season of celebration — and it wasn’t Christmas.
Instead, it began around Easter and culminated 50 days later with the festival of Pentecost!
Pentecost was a day to stand amazed at the grace of God. It was a day to embrace a new Spirit — a time to allow the Holy Spirit of God to energize all their worship and their living.
For the early church, Pentecost was a highlight of the year — a day of excitement and sheer joy.
It was the same on the first Pentecost, when the disciples of Jesus gathered in Jerusalem. Acts 2 tells us they experienced a dynamic outpouring of God’s presence that day that all but catapulted them into ministry — witnessing, proclaiming, loving, caring, teaching, baptizing, and sharing with one another.
That first Pentecost was God’s trumpet blast to the world, birthing the church of Jesus Christ.
The kind of wind-and-flame Christianity that flows from Pentecost isn’t safe. It is radically unsafe — and uncomfortable. It will cost you everything.
What difference did it make in the lives of the early believers to have the Spirit upon them? Read about it in the Book of Acts. They sold whatever they owned so they could make sure that each individual need was met; they followed a disciplined routine of worship, prayer, and Bible Study; they lived together in wonderful harmony.
And everyday God added to their number those who were being saved.
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses,” Jesus proclaimed to His disciples. To be a witness for Him is to be a “Christ-bearer” — to bear the image of Jesus Christ at the deepest roots of who we are, what we do, and where we go.
To that end, may God’s Holy Spirit come and fall afresh on us!
Lindsey Davis was elected to the episcopacy at the 1996 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference, after serving as a pastor and district superintendent in Kentucky. He served as the bishop of the North Georgia Conference from 1996-2008.
Look down and see this waiting host,
|— William Booth / Lex Loizides|