Pentecost Sunday, May 23rd 2010
Acts 2:1-10, Ezekiel 37:1-14

“Just the facts ma’am.” This famous line, attributed to Dragnet’s Sgt Friday, has been the foundation of every cop & killer show since from the 1950’s to today. Ironically, Sgt Friday never uttered these words, but the lesson is clear: Truth is based on what you can observe.

But what people really want and deeply need is not more facts- but meaning. Facts are based on observation and tell us what is. Meaning is based on interpretation and tells us what is wise.

The Pentecost story as told in Acts 2 is the story of several hundred people who all had the facts, but still did not have a clue. “What does this mean?” they all cried out, desperate for someone to interpret. In their quest, they were not and are not alone.

2500 years ago
For the people of God 2500 years ago the facts were these: exiled to the land of Babylon for several generations, the unthinkable was happening, God’s promise of return was finally coming true. “What does it mean? What does it mean?” the people shouted, no one daring to hope the obvious. Everyone had the same facts, but it was the prophets who chanced an interpretation that placed God, not Cyrus, at the center. Isaiah sang that God was “creating a new heavens and a new earth.” And Ezekiel imagined a valley of dry bones coming back to life through the breathe of God. “’Then you shall know that I the Lord have spoken and will act,’ says the Lord.”

What does it mean? It means God is creating a new world right here in our midst. Consider yourself called!

2000 years ago
For the people of God 2000 years ago the facts were these: Jesus was gone and the gathered people experienced incredibly weird signs and wonders including wind, fire, and new speech. Again the people are confused and shout, “What does it mean? What does it mean?” Everyone had the facts, but it was Peter the man of God who provides the meaning. He tells the crowd that what the prophet Joel promised and Jesus lived, is now happening inside each of us and in the community of faith.

What does it mean? It means God is creating a new world right here in our midst. Consider yourself called!

Today
Today, for the people of God at Houston Mennonite the facts are these: our parking lot is too small and our chairs too few in number, our long-time members are doing new things and new members are providing fresh vision, there’s new energy, a new culture, extravagant generosity and a joy in being together. Once again, the people are asking, “What does it mean? What does it mean?” It means today what it has always meant, God is creating a new world right here in our midst!

And what does that world look like? I imagine it looking more and more like the community of Pentecost. It’s a congregation of Anglos, Hispanics, Asians and African-Americans, fourth generation and first generation Russian immigrants, new immigrants from all over Central America, first generation and tenth generation Anabaptist-Christian. Everyone bonded together not by common language or culture, but by our love of Christ and participation in the new world of God. We are not alone! We are living the Pentecost story as our own!

The facts today tell us we are growing, that we like church and things are different. But what we really want and deeply need is not more facts, but meaning. What does it mean? It means God is creating a new world right here in our midst.

We are being Transformed by God to Transform the World!

This is what I believe.
Consider yourself called!

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