by The Rev. Rich Heinz
Pentecost. It is the Israelite Festival of Weeks – a “week” of weeks since the Passover. Pentecost is when God was thanked for the gift of processed grain. Yet now it took on a whole new meaning.
Just over a week earlier, Jesus had ascended. He had promised to send the “Helper” – the “Counselor”/“Comforter” – the Holy Spirit. Indeed, He would process the “grain” that He harvested through the ministry of the apostles!
On that first post-Resurrection Pentecost, the Holy Spirit “harvested” some 3,000 people as He baptized them by the apostles. After sowing the seed of God’s Word which they knew, but now understood through Christ, He gathered them to the Father through the miracle of God’s Word combined with water.
Then the Holy Spirit kept on working on these people. He immersed them in a baptismal life. Their faith was not simply a name on a church roll. Not even having a confirmation certificate does guarantees entrance to heaven. Faith is not a matter of paper or appearances; it is a new life given in Holy Baptism, lived in the Holy Sacraments.
Instead, soaking in those baptismal waters, receiving Christ Jesus through the gifts of the Holy Spirit (God’s means of grace) – that is living in faith! Hearing the Word of the Lord and treasuring it like the Blessed Virgin Mother – that is living in faith. Confessing our sins to our pastor and receiving Holy Absolution – that is living in faith. Drawing near Christ’s altar to receive His most holy Body and most precious Blood for forgiveness, life and salvation – that is living in faith.
The Holy Spirit does not just float around in space, seeking people to zap with grace. Absolutely not! He works through the means that Jesus promises: Holy Baptism, preaching of the Holy Gospel, Holy Absolution, and the Holy Supper. The bodiless Spirit and intangible Third Person of the Holy Trinity uses these “concrete” earthly vessels to deliver the forgiveness and salvation of God!
No longer does the Holy Spirit land on your shoulder like a dove at Baptism. Nor does He enter the church nave with a rushing wind or tongues of fire or the speaking of foreign languages. Instead, He quietly brings Christ to us, and with our Lord, His saving forgiveness, life, and salvation.
So rejoice and be glad as Pentecost approaches! No, you don’t need to look for “tongues” – either languages or fire. No, you don’t need to fear any mighty wind or earthquake. No, you don’t need any sort of extraordinary miracle from heaven.
The Holy Spirit comes when and where He wills. And He wills to come to you through Christ’s preaching and His Holy Sacraments – all given and worked for you! Amen!
Rev. Richard Heinz is Pastor of St. John's Ev. Lutheran Church in Lanesville, IN. He works with Higher Things Internet Services, serving as editor of the Front Page.
Created: May 7th, 2008