Wind and Fire on Sunday

Hey Church Family,

A few weeks ago Steve Noble reminded us in staff meeting that May 28 is Pentecost Sunday. That got us whirling around (“What should we do?”) And what’s more, our John passage for Sunday mentions the Holy Spirit. Listen to what Jesus said to his “on the run with him” disciples who would definitely need a surge of something after he left.

John 15:26 (ESVS) “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

So we started to think about how to celebrate the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, the One who came upon kings, warriors, judges and prophets in earlier days and for particular times and tasks, but who now inhabits every single believer, conferring strength, courage, wisdom, words and love.

And the Spirit doesn’t just confer benefits, he converges believers into one eternal, non-genetic family. Who says that “blood is thicker than water”? In truth, “Spirit is thicker than blood.” We, the people of the Holy Spirit from every country, now united in Jesus the Messiah, are siblings in God the Father’s forever-reigning family. John Mack made that point last week as he led our worship. We’ll celebrate the One who sent the Son, and the Son who sent the Spirit, to adopt us into one dynastic family.

Speaking of being one family, Jaime Burnett will lead our time around the communion table. What a privilege to take it together. The second and third century Christians were under so much pressure that they had to guard the door with deacons so that spies wouldn’t infiltrate and inform on “weirdos.” (That’s how pagans thought of us.) Can you imagine our deacons Lisa C., Tim G., Peter G., David H., Esther K., Caleb L., Cindy M., Dennis M., and John M. standing at the doors and checking credentials to protect the rest of us? And when the believers crossed the threshold of their secret meeting places, they were so relieved to greet their spiritual family members with the kisses of peace and then take the Lord’s Supper. They couldn’t live without it. How casual we are in comparison!

Back to Pentecost. You’ll hear our brothers and sisters Sajiv S., Oscar B., Favour O., and Jen J. praying and praising in Tamil, Spanish, Yoruba and Mandarin respectively. When Kurt shared the idea with Jen J., she wrote back: “This is awesome! I was just talking with someone about having more opportunities to…display the diversity and manifold wisdom of our God!”

YOU ALSO will participate in making a visual display of wind and fire that came upon the believers in Acts 2. Our brothers and sisters serving at the doors will hand you either a blue or red ribbon to swirl around when Doumer L. gives the signal.

We also invite you to wear clothing from your home country to celebrate the fact that our family is comprised of many nations.

This week in our “Believe” series from the Gospel of John

Whereas last week Jesus talked about agape, this week he’ll talk about anti-agape, and how to withstand it. In the first few centuries in the church, spasms of persecution brought tremendous pain to the Christians. Many – still habituated to old ways – wanted to extract revenge. Cyprian, an early Christian leader, wrote a book called On the Good of Patience and preached about it constantly.

Cyprian said that rather than retaliating, we must embody patience through works of love that intrigue the world. He loved to quote Galatians 6:10 which says, “While we have time let us do good to all men…” He also said in one sermon, “Let patience be strong and stable in the heart.”

You’ll meet a new friend of mine named Michael Stamos. I met him at my twin brother Dan’s men’s retreat two months ago and we hit it off. I think it was a divine appointment. Michael is going to share about a particular opportunity for our men to show the kind of patient love that allowed the early church to spread like wildfire despite powerful disincentives not to become a Christian.

Quick facts about Michael:

  • Married to Katy for 28 years
  • Father of two girls ages 24 and 20
  • Raised Greek Orthodox but fell away from his faith in his teen years
  • Born again at 42 (in his car on the corner of Meridian and Curtner!)
  • Home church is St. Timothy’s Lutheran in San Jose, which was instrumental in leading him to Christ
  • Member for 14 years and served on church Council, pastoral call committee, congregation president
  • Led discipleship small groups for 5 years

Here’s what he looks like so you can say “hello”!

Just a final fun tidbit. A month ago our daughter Rachael performed in the musical “Newsies” for Dartmouth Middle School. A few weeks before, I got a message from one of her youth leaders, Heather Howe, asking for times and ticket info so she could support Rachael. At the Sunday show, Heather showed up – but not alone. She had Cindy Mack, Sarah Chang, Kitty and Elizabeth Wlaschin, and Abigail and Sierra Sun. Here’s a picture.

How about that for family love! Now, my family gets a lot of love from the congregation. I guess that’s a pastoral perk! How we want it to spread to every brother and sister – especially the ones who aren’t as visible.

Rachael’s character “Crutchie” had a solo where she sang these lines while her friends watched:

I’ll be fine, good as new
But there’s one thing I need you to do
On the rooftop you said that a family looks out for each other
So you tell all the fellas from me,
to protect one another.

I thought as I snapped that group picture, “Whoa, Rachael’s ‘family’ is looking out for her today, supporting her, and cheering her on.” Let’s protect each other. Let’s support each other. Let’s love one another as Christ loved us.

For Him,