May 26, 2020
10 As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”
This coming Sunday is Pentecost Sunday.
Shavout (Pentecost in Greek) is one of the three national festivals in which Jewish men were required to travel to Jerusalem. Initially, it was a harvest festival when Israelites brought their first fruits to the Lord. After the destruction of the temple, Shavout evolved into a celebration of the giving of “the Torah” on Mt Sinai.
Even today, many Jews celebrate the Shavout by staying up all night to read and study the Torah (the first five books of Moses). At Synagogue services on Shavout morning, the 10 commandments are read and the people reaffirm their commitment to obey God’s word.
Christians know Shavout mainly as the day when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the New Testament church.
The Jewish identity as God’s holy people was established when the Torah was given at Mt Sinai. For Christians, our identity was established when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon us. The Holy Spirit pours out God’s love in our hearts and testifies to our spirits that we are the children of God.
The amazing news is that the Father Almighty loves us in the way that he loves Jesus, his Son. That is hard for us to believe, but that is the truth we can hold on to.
The most ancient prayer of the church is: “Come, Holy Spirit, come.”
When the Paraclete (the one called alongside) comes to fill us with his presence, it is usually accompanied by the experience of God’s love for us.
That was the experience of Jesus at his baptism.
When Jesus was baptized the heavens were split open, the Paraclete descended like a dove on him, and with the Spirit came the message of Father’s love:
“You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”
Before Jesus started his public ministry, before Jesus walked down the path of the cross, the Father assured Jesus of his love for him. This assurance of Father’s favor upon Jesus is what sustained Jesus throughout his ministry and upon the cross.
As we prepare for Pentecost Sunday, let us practice a simple ritual this week. We can start each morning by reciting the words of the Father:
“You are my dearly loved daughter/son, and you bring me great joy.”
Take time to hear these words as the Father’s words to you personally. Let the Father’s love seep into your soul.
Even though we have done nothing to deserve the Father’s favor, the Father delights in us and loves us, just because we have been made his children by faith in Jesus Christ.
Let us also pray that each Sunday will be a Pentecost Sunday, a day when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, filled with God’s love, and filled with God’s power to live for Christ.
Tuesday, May 26, 2020