When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.Acts 2:1-3 (NIV)
Today is the first Sunday of my sabbatical; and it seems strange, I confess, not to be getting ready for a morning of worship, preaching, and interacting with my church family. Of course, I’m grateful for all those who will be taking care of things in my absence, especially Dr. Roger Gilbert – the former pastor of First Baptist Church in Mount Airy, NC – who will be my congregation’s “preaching pastor” while I’m away.
But in what I hope will be an indicator of things to come, I’d like to note that this first Sunday of my absence coincides with a celebration of God’s presence. Today is Pentecost Sunday, our annual reminder of the way that God’s Spirit came to His people and “ignited” them with power for mission. And if there’s a prayer that has motivated me throughout the process of preparing for this sabbatical, it is the prayer that God’s Spirit would come again in a fresh way to empower both me and my church family for the life to which Jesus calls us.
In a book titled, Revival, a well-known pastor of the last century named Martin Lloyd Jones writes:
It is a truism to say that every revival of religion that the Church has ever known has been, in a sense, a kind of repetition of what happened on the day of Pentecost, that it has been a return to that origin, to that beginning,..We need the demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Men can conduct services. Men can get converts. Men can give additions to the Church. What a man can never do is what God does: the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, the descent of power, this uniqueness, this special manifestation of the presence and of the power of God.From Revival, by Martin Lloyd Jones
So today, would you join me in praying that those “tongues of fire” would once again fall on God’s people; and that we, too, would be empowered, united, and sent out to be the kind of community through which His kingdom comes?