Whitsunday (Pentecost)

June 4, 2017

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. AMEN.

Today is one of the major Feast Days of the Church -- The day of Pentecost.  As with all of the major Feast Days, I strive to find a different way of approaching a story which we have heard many times in order to bring new light to something that we think we already know well.

As I read through the lesson from Acts for today, something new struck me.  I might say that something strange also
struck me, because I never thought that the Lord would draw me to this passage.  Let me read it again:

“And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’  But others mocking said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’   But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, ‘Men of Judea and all
who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words.   For these men are not drunk, as you  suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel…’”

I was drawn to the fact that the people thought that the disciples were drunk!  I began to think about this.  Why is it that they thought that they were drunk?  Why did they come to this conclusion?

The key really lies in the first phrase – “And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’”  The crowd had just experienced something incredible.  They knew that the people before them were all Galileans, and yet they spoke in the various languages of the people who were in Jerusalem that day.

The people were there for a feast.  They came from all around the known world.  They spoke different languages.  And yet, these people – the apostles – even though they were from Galilee, were able to speak in the languages of those who were there.

This was something which was miraculous.  It was something which was unexplainable.  And the crowd did what many people do when the experience something unexplainable.  They decided that it did not happen. 

Obviously, these people were drunk and it only sounded like they were speaking various languages.  They could not be doing that, so they must be drunk and their drunken slurrings just sounded similar to languages.  The people who were gathered there only thought that they heard things they could understand.  It was obvious that since that could not
happen they were drunk.

There are people today who think that we are too sophisticated to believe that Jesus could be raised from the dead, so it is explained away – it was only a spiritual experience that happened to the disciples. 

What about what we do here every Sunday?  Some little round tasteless circles and some wine become the Body and Blood of Christ?  Or some ordinary tap water, with prayers said over it can change a person?  Oil on a forehead with a few prayers can heal?

What we do and believe is not believable to the people in the world around us.  They think to themselves – “They must be fools.  Who could believe what they believe!  Who could believe that a man was raised from the dead?  Where is the
evidence?  They must be high!” 

My brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, the world still thinks that we are drunk!  They hear about the miraculous things that we believe and they cannot understand or explain them, and so they simply write us off as fools, or uninformed unscientific nincompoops – as drunks.

We must face the fact that we are no longer in the majority.  We are fewer and fewer.  The world does not believe what we believe. 

But, guess what?  It never did.  The world has never believed what we believe.  It has always looked at us as strange, or even dangerous.  The ancient Romans thought at one time that Christians were cannibals because they heard that we eat and drink the Body and Blood of Christ. 

This is not something new.  It is our calling.  It is who we are.  We believe what we believe and we need to find ways of helping others to understand.  St. Peter begins to explain to the people gathered there on the day of Pentecost, by using the words of the Prophet Joel.  That is because the people who were there were Jews and they knew those words.  He
used things that they understood to explain the miraculous thing that they had just experienced.

And some people who walked away from that experience were changed.  And some people still thought that the disciples were drunk.

That is the way it will be for us as well.  We need to use the things that people understand to explain the miraculous truth that we know in Jesus Christ.  And some people will believe and others will think that we are fools – and that is
alright.  Because that is the way it has always been.

I don’t know about you, but I am proud to be fool for Jesus.  I wear it as a badge of honor – how about you?  AMEN.