The same group of men who weeks before were scratching their heads at what Jesus said to them about His death and resurrection are now enlightened by the Holy Spirit. All doubts vanish. All fears are turned to bravery. They are ready to go into the entire world with the Gospel, beginning in that room in Jerusalem where many heard them telling in their own tongues the mighty works of God. Three thousand souls were added to the kingdom of God. Joy.
The joy of Pentecost lingers today as the mighty works of God are still proclaimed. The blessings of Pentecost have come upon us as we hear those mighty works of death and resurrection and receive the benefits of those mighty works of God in preaching and the Sacraments. Where things go wrong for many is wondering why there aren’t the other miraculous signs that went with the descent of the Holy Spirit. It would be nice to see divided tongues of fire resting on our heads, and a mighty wind going through the church building. Where are the healings? Where are the speaking in tongues? How come we’re stuck with the same old, same old, week after week?
How quick we forget that these signs that happened that day were attention getters. The Feast of Pentecost focuses on the proclamation of the mighty works of God first in Jerusalem, then Judea, then Samaria, then the entire world. The Gospel spreads like shockwaves. The circles grow larger. Soon all the world hears what God has done in His Son Jesus Christ.
The entire world hears that the gift of Pentecost is the Holy Spirit, the Helper, the Comforter Who points the Church back to her Savior and what He does for His bride. Eleven uneducated men are enlightened by the Holy Spirit to preach the everlasting Gospel. What a powerful witness of an almighty God! These men not only begin to preach, but preach in other tongues. Did you notice there are eleven men, but fifteen different languages heard? Everyone heard the same thing in their own language. What they heard was the wonderful works of God: forgiveness and grace.
We sometimes catch ourselves wondering if God will do the same thing now as He did then. After all, the Church seemingly often languishes. The preached Gospel, as Luther described it, is a passing rain shower. The Gospel showers here, but moves elsewhere in time. What if we could have a new Pentecost, an everlasting Pentecost, where the rain shower of the Gospel never stops falling? What if all people could see mighty works of God that haven’t been seen in the Church for many centuries? Maybe there would be more mass conversions! Maybe churches would grow at an exponential rate! Imagine the possibilities in a new Pentecost!
Pentecost never ends. We still live in the time of the Church, hearing the mighty acts of God each week in sermon and song. We receive the benefits of the mighty acts of God in our baptism and in the Lord’s Supper. The preached Gospel is our enlightenment. Each week Pentecost descends upon us in the Gifts, bestowing us with forgiveness and life. Each week we hear anew that we are now free from the threats of the Law that embitter our joy and fill us with fear and horror. You can’t get right with God. God has already gotten right with you in Jesus Christ. No sin is able to cling to you. Sin clings to Christ. Christ pays for your sin, shedding His blood and bestowing His righteousness upon you.
The message of the mighty works of God once was for Jews only. The time would come when Gentiles would receive this message. That time is now. No longer is there one particular race that is more important to God than others. All are important to Him. The Gospel is for all. Redemption is for every sinner, especially the least, the littlest, the lost, and the dead. Where the preaching of Christ crucified resounds, there the people of God are gathered into a community, a communion of saints.
This goes against what some Christians say about one particular group of Christians being the only true visible Church on earth. Contrary to popular belief, especially our little flock of Lutherans in the Missouri Synod, there will be more than Lutherans in the life of the world to come. All who confess Jesus Christ as their only hope for eternal life will receive life everlasting. In spite of false preachers and false teaching, the Lord knows those who are His, even in church bodies that have departed from the truth of Holy Scripture.
It’s easy to get caught up in fervor for a “new Pentecost” because the old one just isn’t working anymore; especially when you hear people talk about “cold” churches and “warm” churches. They are not talking about good heating and air conditioning systems. They are talking about being able to feel whether or not the Holy Spirit is present in the congregation. Many might look at our little flock on this corner of Momence and think the Spirit is long gone. There are only old people here. There’s been strife in the past. People are still angry and won’t ever come back. Surely that’s a sign the Holy Spirit has left the building.
Pay no attention to numbers or feelings. Pay attention to what is preached and what is given here. The mighty works of God, His plan of rescue by His grace, is still proclaimed. The mighty works of God, baptism, Supper, absolution, preaching, still draw His people to His house to be fed, washed, and forgiven. The Holy Spirit still uses God’s Word to show you your sin, bring you to repentance, and bestow forgiveness from Christ that covers you. You are called. You are gathered. You are enlightened. You are strengthened to love and serve your neighbor.
Pentecost still happens every week at the corner of Second and Pine. Sins are forgiven. Sinners eat and drink the Body and Blood of Christ. The Gospel goes forth from this chancel. The Spirit points you to Jesus, your hope for salvation. All who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. The mighty works of God remain.