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At St. Paul’s: “Our primary mission is to relate to, and minister to people who are living on the edge, who seek God’s will for their lives, struggling to find direction and purpose in a society that can be violent, insensitive and money-grabbing.”  

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July 24 Bulletin

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Being a Pentacost Community

Have you ever traveled to another part of the country, or another part of the

world, and you don’t speak the language there? And you have to try to ask

for a bathroom and they laugh at you? You ask – Donde esta el Bano? My

accent is terrible. And the people in the gas station point to the pond.

Sometimes I think that walking into St. Paul’s Church is like walking into a

different country. There are all these strange people; there’s a bulletin the

size of a notebook, there is guitar music, children running around and the

sanctuary is usually filled with people of all shapes, sizes and colors. If I

were a stranger, it might be a little uncomfortable. And then if the person

next to you has questionable hygiene, it might be downright irritating.

If we are to survive as a church community, our primary focus MUST BE on

welcoming the stranger, being open to the new gifts that each new person

has to offer. And it does not matter if they speak our language. Every

time a new person comes in the door, we must welcome them. Every

time someone joins the community, we should flex and compromise to

incorporate him or her into our group. After all, we are all on this journey

together called life.

But that is not to say we have to like everyone. We may love our neighbor

as we love ourselves, but we might not like them. Who was it? George

Carlin, I think, said it best: “Human beings are a dear, hateful, sweet,

barbaric, tender, vile, intelligent, confused, virtuous, evil, thoughtful,

perverted, generous, greedy species.” And in a U2 song, Bono, said: we

would get along so much better if we weren’t so much alike. Sometimes

the things we dislike most in others are the things we hate about ourselves.

But, at least we know this: we know that God is struggling to get our

attention, and most often, God communicates with us through people.

Throughout the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, the stories and commentary

tells of human beings struggling to find God, and God is usually right there

in the midst of them.

So today we celebrate Pentacost. Pentecost, a Greek term meaning "the

fiftieth day", is celebrated 50 days after Easter Sunday. Historically and

symbolically, Pentecost is related to the Jewish harvest festival of Shavuot

which comes ironically, fifty days after completion of the Exodus, on which

day God gave the Ten Commandments to the people at Mount Sinai.

So, Pentecost started as a celebration of the end of the spring harvest

season. Pagans, Jews, people of all faiths and no faith came to the center

of their known civilization, Jerusalem by the hundreds of thousands,

not only to sell what they had harvested, but to go to the Temple and

present offerings of bread, fruit, and oxen to the priests. It is interesting

to comment here that all of the disciples were Jews, Jesus was a Jew and

that Jesus did not intend to start a new religion, per se, but he intended to

just make Scriptures come alive for the people who heard his sermons and

followed him. Religion piled on top of religion piled up on religion.

Today, our Pentecost celebrates the outpouring of the Spirit where the

faithful people of the community were empowered to take the Gospel of

the Lord Jesus Christ to all nations. Millions of Christians have, over the

centuries, been ordained to preach, teach and heal; in essence, called and

commissioned to go out into the highways and byways to “fish for men.”

The outpouring of the Spirit gave the disciples the courage and mental

fortitude to boldly confront the world, to edge out from behind the protection

of locked doors and to walk, talk, and move about society and find new life.

The powerful changes went well beyond the immediate disciples, as the

story goes, and affected others in a massive way; 3000 were baptized on

the first day alone. But the most dramatic work of the Spirit wasn't merely

an internal or individual act—the whole rapidly growing community of

believers acted as if the Reign of God was truly at hand.

The community formed by the Pentacostal Christians was a radical,

strange bunch. They held all money and things in common; they sold their

possessions and goods and distributed the proceeds to all, as any had

need. They prayed and broke bread together, with glad and generous

hearts (Acts 2:44-47). They were intimate, friendly and joyful. Small

wonder, with lives like that, that they had "the goodwill of all the people,"

and that many sought to join them.

Part of what makes Pentecost such a great story is that the Spirit

is poured out on a people regardless of what native language they spoke.

Regardless of their comprehension, God was still speaking to them. people

had come from all nations and cultures—"Parthians, Medes, Elamites;

etc. . . Jews and proselytes; Cretans and Arabs"—and in their own

languages they heard each other speaking about God's mighty deeds and


Luke says that everyone was amazed and wondered, "What does this

mean?" Others who were less charitable scoffed at the members taken by

the spirit of the moment because they looked as if they were “drunk on new

wine." Peter, obviously recovered from his worst fears of being humiliated,

stepped courageously forward and demonstrated some much-needed

leadership. “Listen up,” he said, “these people are not drunk, as you

suppose. They are fulfilling the prophecy of Joel, who said that God would

speak through all flesh, that our sons and daughters would prophesy, that

our young people would see visions, and that our old people would

dream dreams. And in effect he said, these people are visionaries. Prepare

for the kingdom of God which will blow your mind.

Peter and his other leaders, now numbering in the thousands, built the

church in a rapid pace. God not only spoke to them, God spoke through

them, to the world around them, in a variety of languages. There continue

to be people in every generation of the Christian faith who wonder whether

God is still speaking in their time and place. It might go against the grain

for some because they believe in the inerrancy of scriptures, that God has

already said everything that we ever need to know in scripture, or through

some church figure head, or in some church document, and that all we

need to do is to read it, and embrace it. But God is not finished with us.

There is still more to do.

'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons

and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men

will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour

out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

So even if you have heard this all before, God is still speaking and you

better be listening. Even if you have a hard time relating to your fellow

human beings, your vision of the future is important to building God’s

community. Even if you are exhausted from your job, or your life, especially

if you are tired of being taken advantage of, treaded on, beaten down,

laughed at, scoffed at, bullied there is a way for you to be born again, to

gather your strength and courage, to redirect your spiritual gifts so that our

community benefits from your wisdom and compassion. God is still working

and speaking to us. The Holy Spirit is still moving and motivating God’s

people to do their part to invite people to a better way of life.

The Church Council and other leaders met on retreat Friday and Saturday.

And our focus scripture was the LOVE PASSAGE. I would like to ask each

person who is here today, to maybe say a word or two about how St. Paul’s

Community church is building God’s community, here and in the city and


1 Corinthians 13

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a

clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,

and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3

away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast,[a]

gain nothing.

4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It

does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6

wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7

things, endures all things.

8Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will

cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9 For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in

part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke

like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to

childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly,[b]

only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13And now faith, hope, and

love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

If I give

 but do not have love, I

it does not rejoice in

It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all

 but then we will see face to face. Now I know