Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org

From What To How

Listen to the Sermon

June 8:

Call:    Numbers 11: 24-30
Text:    Acts 2: 1-21
Closing: 1 Corinthians 4-7 (in golden members celebration)
Readings:   W&S # 38 and W&S #40 (benediction)
Psalm:   Psalm 104: 24-34, 35b   (826)

         From What To How

Today is Pentecost.

I am so excited by that fact,
That, like the spokespeople in the infomercials,
I have decided to give you a special deal
   A special one day limited time and place offer
   An offer only available this morning
And only available to those who are here.

For you see, I have decided to give you
Not just one sermon/message
But two
Two for the price of one

I can just see you being so inspired by this offer
That as you leave here this morning
You will be unable to resist dropping in on a friend
and saying,
   "Boy did I get lucky!  Rev. Barnes preached two sermons!"

Now, in my excitement, I may be getting just a bit carried away
And perhaps - on second thought - even inspiring some fear

So let me assure you that you don't need to worry,
   It's not only two for the price of one,"
   It is also two in the same amount of time as one.

In other words you are not going to be here any longer
   Because you have been blessed by two messages
      Than you would have been if there was just one.

You are not going to be here any longer
   Because of my decision to give you      a "Twofor"

The first part of my offer is the advertised special
   The one on the sign
   The one in the bulletin

The one whose title is:    "From What to How."

That message is simple enough.

Last week Christ at his ascension gave the disciples a task
He told them what to do once he had ascended
And he was clear about what that was,
   He told them to be his witnesses
in Jerusalem, in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

And I'll bet that each of the disciples scoffed
   About the ability of the others to be witnesses
   And almost certainly each about his own ability be one

I'll bet that, in their minds, the scoffing took precedence over
   The promise that he made to them
      That they would receive power
         Once the Holy Spirit came upon them.

At that point
The disciples knew what they were to do.
But they couldn't comprehend how they were to do it.

But on Pentecost,
they were able to move from knowing what they were to do
To    knowing how they would be able to do it - through the HS

Last week we observed Christ assign the task
And we recognized and acknowledged that Christ gave that task
   Not only to the disciples who stood, watched, and listened
   But to you and me as well.
      For we are the successors to the disciples

That being the case, as we experience the Pentecost story
   You and I,
like the disciples who saw the flames and heard the wind,
are also able to move from
Knowing "what"    to knowing "how"

It is quite a story: Acts 2: 1-21.

On Pentecost
Jesus fulfilled the promise he had made at his ascension

And he did so with an experience that was
powerfully dramatic     and dramatically empowering

The disciples could no longer beg off the assigned task
   By citing a litany of mistakes, failures, and weaknesses
   To demonstrate how unsuitable they were for the job.

And neither can we.  For we too have been empowered.

That     is the end of the first message.
But Pentecost did more than fulfill Jesus' promise.
It was also God's response to Moses' prayerful wish

And that is why I promised you a second message

Although not in the bulletin and not on the sign
   This second message also has a title:
   I call it:  "Moses Got His Wish."

This second message is also about Pentecost
   But it begins with the story that called us to worship
      A story that we do not hear very often
      From a book that we don't read very often.

It is a story of Moses
During the   wandering-in-the-wilderness   phase of his life.

At God's direction
Moses took seventy elders out to the tent of meeting.

While they were there
God came down
and took some of the spirit that was on Moses
and put it on the seventy elders
Those elders then prophesied - albeit, only that once.

Meanwhile back at the camp, two men, Eldad and Medad,
   [with names like that I wish we were meeting them next Sunday when we celebrate Fathers Day]

Anyway, the spirit also rested on these two men,
   And they prophesied in the camp.

This upset Joshua, Moses' chief assistant.

Joshua went directly to Moses,
told him what was happening,
and urged Moses to stop them to preserve Moses' authority.

But Moses did not believe
that the spirit and its power were for him alone.

His response must have startled his younger aide,
   For not only did he refuse to stop them
   He added in what I imagine to be a wistful manner
      "Would that all of the Lord's people were prophets
      and that the Lord would put his spirit on them."

Moses was not selfish, self indulgent, or power hungry

He was not interested in being "better" than the others
To the contrary, he preferred
that all of God's people have the spirit.

When I read this passage
   I see Moses' words as a prayer and a wish
      A prayer that was answered
      And a wish that was granted
On Pentecost

For unlike the Transfiguration
   Which only Peter, James, and John witnessed
The coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost
   Was witnessed by a large and diverse group.

We know from last week's story
   That the group that was all together in the one place
      Consisted of both    men      and women

We know from the Pentecost story itself
that there were people from all over
   Gathered in Jerusalem for the festival

Likewise we know from the text
that these people spoke a variety of languages

And Luke thought that this was so important
That instead of just saying that
He chose, in words that challenge readers even today,
to give us a list
of all those who were in Jerusalem that day

   "Parthians, Medes, Elamites,
   and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappodocia,
   Pontus, and Asia
   Phrygia and Pamphylia,
   Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene
   And visitors from Rome
      Both Jews and proselytes,
   Cretans and Arabs."

Luke wanted us to grasp
   That the Holy Spirit was there for everyone.

The list of peoples may seem disproportionately long
It may be tiring and difficult to read
   But by the time we get to the end of it
   We have not only been told,
But we have also felt and experienced the idea
that all sorts of people
from all sorts of places
were there to witness God
sending the Holy Spirit.

Moses got his wish.

And you and I - for we are part of
   All sorts of people
   From all sorts of places
Were offered the Holy Spirit
   So that we can continue the work of the disciples
      By being witnesses
In our community  In our state      In our country
      And to the ends of the earth.

"Moses got his wish     Moses got his wish
The spirit's there for all of us
Moses got his wish."

But that wish only reaches fruition
   If we allow Christ's gift of spirit
      Into our hearts, souls, and character
   If we allow it
      To pierce our hardheartedness and selfishness
         Our failures to love and forgive
         And our inclination to resist and reject the gift.

"Moses got his wish     Moses got his wish
Now we must accept the gift
Moses got his wish."


Join me in this ditty with the third line this time being,
"We will accept the gift"
"Moses got his wish     Moses got his wish
We will accept the gift Moses got his wish"

This is Pentecost.