The Message, June 5, 2022: "Filled With the Spirit"

The Message, June 5, 2022: "Filled With the Spirit"

Author: Rev. Scott W. Cousineau
June 07, 2022


“Filled With the Spirit!”
A Message by Rev. Scott W. Cousineau
Acts 2:1-21

            Have you ever experienced anything like that? The rush of wind? The tongues of flame? The jumping, dancing or twirling? Speaking ecstatically?

            As I reflected upon that question, I realized that the closest that I come is when I injure myself … when I smash my thumb with a hammer or stub my toe! I jump around, maybe even twirl. Strange sounds come out of my mouth, and I speak in a language that can be understood by drunken sailors or longshoremen. (Definitely not words that are normally spoken by a minister.)

            Have you ever had an experience anything like the one described in Acts?

            Have you ever felt as though you were in the Presence of God? Or felt the power of the Spirit?

            Has it ever happened in worship?

            Do not worry. This is not an entrance requirement. This is not some litmus test to see if you are “spiritual” enough, or “faithful” enough to be a part of this church family. The reality is that it is most likely that very few of us … if any … have experienced anything at all like that Pentecost event.

            In my life, I can recall a handful of times when I truly felt the power of the Spirit. I could feel it move me and move through me. It did evoke an emotional response, but I can assure you that there was no dancing, twirling or shouting. But … there is still time for that.

            Maybe one day, the Holy Spirit, the Power of God will be able to break through my very traditional New England reserve. Maybe …

            Last week, someone asked me, “What is Pentecost anyways?” And I replied, “It is the day that we celebrate as the birthday of the Christian church.” Which is true, but I wanted to hold some of my answer back for my message this morning.

            As we heard this morning, the origin of Pentecost is in our Jewish heritage. It was the celebration of the first harvest. It was one of the required … mandatory … pilgrimage celebrations for which all males living within twenty miles of Jerusalem had to go to the Temple to present their offering. They offered the first sheaf of wheat, the first fruit of the harvest in gratitude to God.

            So, just as we heard in the preparation for Easter and the Passover festival, the city was teeming with people from all across the region. The city was filled with energy and excitement.

            Pentecost was celebrated fifty days after Passover. Pentecost literally means the ‘fiftieth day.’ With its connection to Passover, Pentecost came to mean more than a celebration of the first fruits. It was about God redeeming the People of Israel. It was a celebration of their freedom!

            It was into that gathering of praise, thanksgiving and celebration that the Presence of God made a very powerful appearance!

            The challenge for us today is to understand that the Pentecost event is more than simply a description of an event that happened long ago. It is more than a mental exercise. It is an experience … an encounter with the Power and Presence of God!  

            The reality is that we cannot possibly capture the experience in mere words. Ordinary words cannot describe an extraordinary event! It was beyond extraordinary! It was fantastic! It was divine … heaven on earth!!

            There was a rush of wind so powerful that it sounded like thunder! It was so loud that it attracted the attention of everyone in the area. The people gathered around to see what was happening!

            And then the tongues of fire danced around them and upon them. In much the same way that the Presence of God appeared to Moses on Mount Sinai … in wind and flame … the Presence of God swirled, and moved, and danced among them all!

            And then the followers of Jesus, those who had walked in the presence of the Son of God, the embodied Word of God, began to speak in a way that surprised everyone there.

            We often misinterpret this portion of the story. We say that they spoke in tongues … that ecstatic speak that we often associate with Pentecostalism. However, that is not what happened. The followers of Christ … those simple Galileans … spoke in a way that they were able to be understood by all in attendance! They did not speak in tongues. They spoke so that those who gathered there could understand in their own language. The Holy Spirit spoke to each in their own tongue.

            A few moments ago, I asked if you had ever had an experience like this yourself, and if anything like this had ever happened in worship. You may feel disappointed that you have not had this ecstatic experience of the Spirit.

            However, as we just heard, we all have different experiences of the Spirit. We all experience the Presence of God in our own unique way. God speaks to us in our own unique “language.”

            Perhaps you have had an ecstatic experience of the Presence of God. Something that moved you to tears … or to dance and twirl.

            Or perhaps your experience was different … more subtle … quiet … stillness … peaceful.

            You and I will not experience the power and Presence of God in the same ways because we are unique and different people. God knows each of us individually and intimately. God knows how we are knit together. God knows how to speak to us, to sing to us in the language that will speak to our hearts and souls.

            Naturally, I do hope and pray that those who gather here will experience the Power, Presence and Spirit of God.

            When you talk to people about church or worship … specifically those who do not attend … what do they typically say?
            “Worship is boring.” “The pastor is boring.” “The music is boring.” Take your pick.
            “It is not relevant in my life.”
            “I can be spiritual in my own way.”

            I hope that those who find their way here will experience something special. I hope that they will feel something. Worship is not a burden to be endured. It is a joy to be experienced!

            And gathering is important. In that Pentecost event, ‘they were all together in one place.’ They were gathered. The Spirit, the Presence of God comes to unite … to bring us together.

            We were called together by the Holy Spirit of God. Just as God did in the act of Creation, the Breath of God called forth life … new life! Suddenly, all those who gathered there were filled with the Spirit, and they proclaimed the Good News so that all would hear!

            We are called to life by the Breath of God. We are called to be filled with the Holy Spirit! We are called to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ … the Presence of God in the flesh.

            And we are called to speak in many languages … languages that others will be able to hear and understand. The work of God is inclusive. All people are included.

            Therefore, we are called to speak in the voice of welcome.
            We are called to “speak” through music.
            We are called to “speak” through mission and service.
            We are called to “speak” through our presence in the community.
            We are called to “speak” so that ALL may hear, and ALL may experience the Power and the Presence of God.

            Whatever we do, however we “speak,” we do so embodying the Spirit, the Presence of God.

            Sometimes we will speak subtly or quietly. Other times we may speak loudly and boldly. But we will always be filled with the Holy Spirit of God! Amen.


Congregational Church