We like to celebrate with the confirmation students, the graduates and their families this morning. It has been a journey for both, the confirmation students and their parents. On one hand the parents had to commit themselves to bring them to the classes while the students had to prepare to learn and even do some project. I wish to thank, also, those who helped teach or provide transportation or any help that any of us might have given.
For those confirmed today, your journey of faith takes an even wider involvement now. As confirmed members you can take any leadership roles in the church and you are now able to direct your own faith walk. For those not driving yet, you may still depend on your parents to bring you to church but for those driving, it will be your choice every Sunday morning. You can choose to come or not to come, but you can no longer blame your parents. You are the one to take the initiative when it comes to your faith walk. The church family will be here to support you always.
Jesus had promised the disciples that he was going to send them a helper who would be with them all the time. The disciples had to wait for the helper who was the Holy Spirit before they could move out. For us to understand fully the importance of the coming of the Holy Spirit or the day of Pentecost I would like us to look at the book of Genesis 11:1-9. This is the story of the tower of Babel. In this story we notice a number of things that took place:
- People were speaking one language with the same words (United)
- They built a tower to make a name for themselves (Self-Glorification)
- They wanted to stay together so much so that they didn’t care what happened elsewhere (Self-Serving)
But when their language was mixed (couldn’t understand each other) they could no longer work together. They all went their separate ways.
During the day of Pentecost, we see the reverse of what took place at the tower of Babel:
- Different languages understood by everyone
- Glory is give to God (Peter’s story)
- Scattered yet connected
- Mixed languages, yet work together
Therefore, we can argue that the Holy Spirit broke the barriers that existed and the church of Jesus Christ was born. The coming of the Holy Spirit brought:
- New life filled with boldness: Peter and the disciples were no longer scared of being persecuted. In fact, when people started to accuse those speaking in tongues of being drunk, it was Peter who defended them. He reminded the audience that people re not usually drunk early in the morning. Drunk people are disorderly and mostly speak with no cohesion. Peter later gave his first sermon about the event. We are bold because we can speak with conviction that we are not only serving a living God but we have the assurance by the presence of the Holy Spirit. The day of Pentecost is the day of freedom. It is the day they witnessed the unity that is not based on race, country of origin or even the nationality. We are bold because we serve a living God who has kept his promise and continues to hold us through our journeys in this world. His promise is not to leave us or forget about us.
- New life full of joy: The disciples were full of joy because their hearts were warmed by the Spirit. They knew no other happiness than that of being in the house of God and praising him. The joy that filled the people who witnessed the transformation that took place is the same joy we experience today. We are people of The Way and people who know our destiny. Christians are called not to be afraid of what happens because all the ground is covered. When the Holy Spirit came upon the people, they were determined to speak out and they danced with joy. They did not rock heir places of worship anymore because they were not afraid of the persecutors. Being persecuted for having faith in Jesus was also a form of joy; that knowing that death has come because of one’s faith in Jesus and being able to witness to the same.
- New life with God’s vision: Their eyes were opened to see a bigger church; the church that extends beyond the Jewish territories; a church universal. This universal church was a united church because it had one Lord as its master. They became one united race called Christians. It is true that we belong to different races of the world made up of different colors and nationalities, yet as believers we become one Christian race. We are one in Christ because we share the same father who is our God. There I call you brothers and sisters. It is only in the church family where we see each other as brothers and sisters, not as Africans and Americans or any other nationality. There is the joy of knowing that we are one enrolled in the same army, with the same enemy and one ultimate goal to see Jesus. We are going to share the same heaven. It is John, the author of Revelation, that reminds us of this truth when he writes, “After this I looked, and there was an enormous crowd – no one could number all the people! They were from every race, tribe, nation, and language…” (Revelation 9:9a). Even though people come from all corners of the earth, they were united on this day of Pentecost. This was a big reversal from the Tower of Babel where different languages caused misunderstanding and people went separate ways. Remember on the day of Pentecost, they understood each other, even when they spoke in their own language. This reminds us of two great important things: First: there is unity in diversity. Even when we speak different languages we can still be united. The Second thing is that even when we speak different languages, the theme is one – LOVE. This is the uniting language that Christians operate from. It is this love that moved God to give his only Son to die for us.
- Unity in purpose or ministry: The coming of the Holy Spirit united God’s people to team together in evangelizing the whole world. It is John Wesley who once said, “The world is my parish.” It is this purpose that makes us support different ministries all over the world. We have a ministry where we help people read and write. We support the Bible Society, organizations that teach people to read and write. How many in this room can read and write? There are many people in the world who cannot. If they cannot read they will not be able to know the Bible. Writing is equally important for the quick spread of the word of God. Therefore, through the united ministry of purpose, we can use your mission dollars to help make people literate. We can support works of mission, peace and justice.
They discovered that unity was based on love.