Sunday, May 31, 2020

Christ Over the Coronavirus During Pentecost | May Hearts Come Alive by the Power of the Spirit Today

Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Church Transcultural Kingdom Multi-ethnic Network of Missional Communities

Pentecost Freedom: When Our Hearts Become Free and Our Shame is Undone in Your Presence, Lord.

In preparing for Pentecost today, Sunday, May 31, I needed to remember again how God has given us a feast of gifts by His Holy Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. And, as a wiser man than me has said, "What the Spirit of God gives to you and does in you, He also plans to do through you for the blessing of others."

In light of this generous offering He has given to us by His grace and power, I wonder how He will bring this feast of new life to others in our beloved city of Worcester this weekend during the pandemic and the need for lament in light of the gross injustice that has occurred again in our country. While He has told us He will send His Spirit and power so that we can be His witnesses, I am still such a weak witness of Jesus' powerful grace, truth, mercy, and justice to my family, friends, and neighbors, and I often feel the weight of this while sheltering at home and seeing another brother of color killed in the streets. 

My thoughts, emotions, and actions too often do not look like the life Jesus lived and died. But despite my slow transformation into representing the Son of God as an adopted child of God, and my slow adaptation into walking with Him during this time, He still loves me and He still lives for me as He does for you. And He generously offers His Spirit, present and powerful, to remind us of His love for us and others again and again.

The Artistry of the Trinity to Welcome Us into Everlasting Love

A couple years ago, I discovered the beautiful painting at the top of this post that was featured on the Wells Cathedral UK website. 

There are many layers the artist skillfully rendered to represent Resurrection, Ascension, and Pentecost. 

+ Resurrection and Ascension: You can see Resurrection and Ascension through the upward movement of the painting when forty days after Jesus resurrected He took His rightful place on the throne of God and prepared to send His Holy Spirit to us.  
+ Pentecost: You can see Pentecost in the tongues of fire along with a worshipful spread of arms or wings to represent how God's Holy Spirit is often portrayed as a dove  a Comforter and Presence of Peace for all whom He embraces as they receive Him 
+ Trinity: And you can see the Trinity as there are three flames representing the community of our triune God who invites us into love, indwells in us with His overflowing grace, and who refines us through His powerful holiness and goodness.

In light of all of the above, this painting helps me remember during this specific time of year to be joyful that Jesus Christ is Lord of all (Ascension), to be grateful the Spirit of God has been given to His people (Pentecost), and to be hopeful that the Truth of faith will be heard and experienced in Worcester as we declare and display Jesus together, for the nature of God is a unified community (Trinity) who speaks and shows His love to us and through us according to the purpose of the Father, the grace of the Son, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. 

This Pentecost as we desire the impact of the Spirit, let's join together in praying that we and our neighbors would receive and give the God of Love who embraces once dead hearts, makes us come alive, and gives us a profound sense of belonging with each other as part of His family. 

For additional considerations, below are some of the writings, verses, and songs Emmaus City has read, prayed, and sang together on previous Pentecost weekends. 

Pentecost Sunday Writings, Verses, and Songs

The Spirit renews our hearts and moves us to faith, leads us into truth, and helps us to pray, stands by us in our need, and makes our obedience fresh and vibrant. God the Spirit lavishes gifts on the church in astonishing variety—prophecy, encouragement, healing, teaching, service, tongues, discernment— equipping each member to build up the body of Christ and to serve our neighbors.

Jesus said, “If you love Me, obey My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it isn’t looking for Him and doesn’t recognize Him. But you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me. Since I live, you also will live. When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you. Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love Me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them. All who love Me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love Me will not obey Me. And remember, my words are not My own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent Me."  + John 14:15-21, 23-24, NLT

You are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to Him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, He will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when He adopted you as His own children. Now we call Him, “Abba, Father.” For His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later. + Romans 8:9-18, NLT

There's nothing worth more
That would ever come close,
No thing can compare,
You're our living Hope –
Your presence, Lord.

I've tasted and seen
Of the sweetest of loves,
When my heart becomes free
And my shame is undone –
Your presence, Lord.

Holy Spirit,
You are welcome here,
Come flood this place
And fill the atmosphere.
Your glory God
Is what our hearts long for,
To be overcome
By Your presence, Lord.

Let us become more aware of Your presence.
Let us experience the glory of Your goodness.

Our World Belongs to God (30)

The Spirit gathers people from every tongue, tribe, and nation into the unity of the body of Christ. Anointed and sent by the Spirit, the church is thrust into the world, ambassadors of God’s peace, announcing forgiveness and reconciliation, proclaiming the good news of grace. Going before them and with them, the Spirit convinces the world of sin and pleads the cause of Christ. Men and women, impelled by the Spirit, go next door and far away into science and art, media and marketplace—every area of life, pointing to the reign of God with what they do and say.

Jesus said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, so I am sending you." Then He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. And I will send the Holy Spirit, just as My Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven. You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be My witnesses, telling people about Me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. It is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate—The Holy Spirt—won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send Him to you. And when He comes, He will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in Me. Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see Me no more. Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged. + John 20:21-22; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8; John 16:7-11, NLT

And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to Himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. + 2 Corinthians 5:18-21, NLT 

Through the eyes of men it seems
There's so much we have lost,
As we look down the road
Where all the prodigals have walked.
And one by one
The enemy has whispered lies
And led them off as slaves.

But we know that You are God,
Yours is the victory.
We know there is more to come
That we may not yet see.
So with the faith You've given us
We'll step into the valley unafraid.

As we call out to dry bones 
Come alive, come alive!
And we call out to dead hearts
Come alive, come alive!
Up out of the ashes
Let us see an army rise!
We call out to dry bones, come alive!

God of endless mercy,
God of unrelenting love,
Rescue every daughter
Bring us back the wayward son.
By Your Spirit breathe upon them
And show that You alone can save.
You alone can save!

So breathe, oh breath of God,
Now breathe, oh breath of God,
Breathe, oh breath of God,
Now breathe!

Communion Song and Prayer

As God did with His people before Jesus came during the celebration of the Feast of Weeks, and as we see Him fully realize that Feast for us after Jesus lived, died, resurrected, ascended and fulfilled His promise in sending us His Spirit on Pentecost and giving us His fruit for sharing with others, may we – men, women, and children, old and young – dream dreams and see visions of God bringing His salvation to our friends and neighbors, and restoring us and our city.

Spirit of God, descend upon my heart;
Wean it from earth; through all its pulses move;
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art;
And make me love Thee as I ought to love.

I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies,
No sudden rending of the veil of clay, 
No angel vision, no op'ning skies;
But take the dimness of my soul away.

Teach me to feel that Thou art always nigh;
Teach me the struggles of the soul to bear.
To check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh,
Teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.

Hast Thou not bid me love Thee, God and King?
All, all Thine own, heart and strength and mind.
I see Thy cross; there teach me to cling:
O let me seek Thee, and O let me find!

Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love,
One holy passion filling all my frame;
The presence of Thy descended Dove,
My heart an altar, and Thy love the flame.

Christ is all,

Rev. Mike "Sully" Sullivan

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