Archive for May, 2012

Pentecost–Celebrating with “Power in the People”

May 27, 2012

Pentecost, “The Birthday of the Church,” celebrates the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, demonstrating “Power in the People.”

In recognition of Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks, one of feasts of the Lord implement by God to be observed forever, I posted an Examiner.com article discussing Feast of Pentecost and Shavuot, a corresponding Jewish festival:

http://www.examiner.com/article/pentecost-a-christian-celebration-with-jewish-roots

 Deuteronomy 16:16 indicates:

“Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and in the Feast of Weeks, and in the Feast of Tabernacles.”

From the sixteenth of the month of Nisan (the second day of the Passover), seven complete weeks, i.e., forty-nine days, were to be reckoned, and this feast was held on the fiftieth day. (Pentecost means 50)

Pentecost is observed only for two days, and it marks the closing of the Passover season.  It has strong agricultural significance in that it marks the end of the barley harvest and the beginning of the wheat harvest.  Historically, Pentecost (Feast of Weeks) became increasingly known for its significance associated with the time of the giving of the Law of Moses.

Pentecost is also celebrated as the “birthday of the Church” as recorded in Acts 2:1-41 when the Holy Spirit descended and the promise was fulfilled whereby the apostles and disciples of Jesus Christ “were all filled with the Holy Spirit” and began to manifest the Spirit of God with speaking in tongues and demonstrating the transforming power of God that catapulted the early Church into the fulfillment of its destiny in the First Century. 

Generally speaking, Christians recognize the importance of the birth of Christ. Christmas is a major celebration in the Body of Christ (even with its commercial aspects); likewise, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is widely celebrated with its extraneous aspects—But unfortunately “Pentecost,” the birthday of the Church goes virtually unnoticed within a large part of the Body of Christ. There is a surging remnant of faithful believers, however, who recognize the significance of Pentecost, as a sign of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, a power source that continues to transform lives across the globe.

In addition to being Pentecost Sunday, May 27 is also the Global Day of Prayer. This worldwide Day of Repentance and Prayer began in July 2000 when South African businessman Graham Power received a vision built on 2 Chronicles 7:14. The following year more than 45,000 Christians gathered in unity at Newlands Rugby Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa. In 2002 a second vision surpassed the first in its scope to include the entire continent of Africa.  Eventually an invitation to participate was extended to the rest of the world. The power in this corporate prayer brought before our Living God has released transformation around the world. Click here to read the Prayer for the World along with suggestions and guidelines for using it.

In the late 1960s and well into the 1970s, I began my Biblical training which ultimately led to being a writer and a teacher of writing. One of the early magazine articles that I wrote focused on the power of the Holy Spirit.  I happened to think about the topic of the power of God and was able to locate a copy of “Power in the People” which I have formatted to a PDF and have reproduced as a Pentecost treat for those who stop by Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe.

power in the people

Moving beyond the Day of Pentecost and the 1st Century Church—we are beginning to seeing the 21st Century Church as God intended it to be. Kevin J. Conner, in his comprehensive study of The Church in the New Testament, discusses God’s intent regarding his “masterpiece”:

The New Testament Church is redeemed to minister to the Lord, to the saints, to the sinner and finally be used to judge Satan and his evil kingdom. This is the fourfold purpose of the Church’s existence. No wonder Paul said, “Unto Him be glory in the Church both now and ever more.” (Ephesians 3:21).

Conner asks, “What is the purpose of the Church’s Existence?”

We will find that the reason for the existence of the Church is basically fourfold. God had an eternal purpose in mind when He planned creation and redemption. This purpose was manifested in Christ, and it is an “eternal purpose.” This great purpose is THE CHURCH. Nothing will frustrate the eternal purpose of God in Christ and His Church (Ephesians 3) All things work together for the good to them that are called according  to this purpose (Romans 8:26-28)

Ephesians 3:9-12 also reveal God’s intent for the Church:

9And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

 10To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,

 11According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:

 12In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.

“The Song of Pentecost” celebrates the wonder of God’s love and grace expressed in these words:

                                          The Song of Pentecost

                                                       Acts 2:1-4

                        Those with ears to hear seek your song of grace.

                        With no song to soothe the soul, all is lost.

                        Your melody makes life a quiet place

                        When the heart sings the song of Pentecost.

                        There in Eden’s garden fell the first frost

                        Where stillborn silence chilled the human race.

                        The purest harmony with God was lost.

                        Those with ears to hear seek your song of grace.

                        Voices of patriarchs could not replace

                        The inner melody from God.  At most

                        Their sound was an echo, only a trace.

                        With no song to soothe the soul, all is lost.

                        With the sign of blood upon the doorpost

                        Moses led Israel toward the promised place.

                        The lyrics of the Law were their guidepost.

                        Your melody makes life a quiet place.

                        Man hears life’s sublime music in the grace

                        By Jesus Christ, who died and rose to post

                        A higher law that death cannot erase

                        When the heart sings the song of Pentecost.

                        Sound of rushing mighty wind: the signpost,

                        The prelude to the promised song of grace.

                        With the outpouring of the Holy Ghost,

                        The song of Pentecost can now embrace

                        Those with ears to hear.

Here are additional articles related to Pentecost:

http://www.examiner.com/christian-spirituality-in-columbus/pentecost-america-beyond-azusa-street

http://www.examiner.com/christian-spirituality-in-columbus/another-pentecost-the-welsh-revival

http://www.examiner.com/christian-spirituality-in-columbus/pentecost-sunday-happy-birthday-church

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Five for Twelve on 5-4-12

May 4, 2012

Isaiah 62 with its 12 verses comprises the theme for the New Year: “Twelve for Twelve in 2012.”

At the beginning of the New Year, I posted a blog in Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe based on my theme and scriptural focal point for 2012. In this case, I had selected Isaiah 62, a passage that most providentially contains twelve verses. In studying the chapter, I decided to write a series of poems, as I personalized each of the twelve verses, calling the collection “Twelve for Twelve for 2012.” Here is the link to the first installment, published in two parts, inspired by Isaiah 62:1: “One for Twelve”:

The series continues with the fifth installment “Five for Twelve,” a personalized poetic rendering of Isaiah 62:5, posted on May 4, 2012 (5-4-12).  Here is the verse from the New Living Testament:

Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem,
    just as a young man commits himself to his bride.
Then God will rejoice over you
    as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.

 

Five for Twelve

Isaiah 62:5

The hearts of the children will turn to their fathers,   

Just as your children will commit themselves to you.                                                 

O Jerusalem, so shall your offspring serve you,                                                                                                       

Just as a young man commits himself to his wife.                                  

Even as a groom approaches his wedding day,

Like a great athlete is eager to run his race,                                                                            

So will God, the Mighty One, rejoice over you.                                                                                                 

Behold, this is a time to dance and celebrate,                                                                                    

For the Lord shall extol your beauty and proclaim                                                                                         

His faithfulness and favor as He approaches.                             

With outstretched arms He embraces His beloved,                                                                                           

As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.

 

As we enter into the fifth month of the year, I think of the spiritual significance of the number five which is symbolic of divine grace, most commonly spoken of as “unmerited favor.”  At the end of April, Apostle Benjamin T. Moore, III, offered the following words:

The conclusion of April is a doorway into a new level of GRACE. May will be a month of INCREASED GRACE. Understand that grace is NOT simply unmerited favor, but enabling power. Power to get the “job” done, strength to stretch into a season of peace. Relationships have been challenged.  Doors opened. Doors closed. This coming month will be a DIVINE release of fresh perspectives of GRACE and STRENGTH. Expect it. Period.

A scripture that makes reference to grace is Acts 4:33:

And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. (KJV)

The Amplified Bible renders the verse in this way:

And with great strength and ability and power the apostles delivered their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace (loving-kindness and favor and goodwill) rested richly upon them all. (AMP)

In thinking about that verse and its application, the song “Great Grace” by Mary Alessi captures the essence of the season that we are embarking upon during this fifth month of May.

Thinking about justice and “the quality of mercy” on Law Day 2012

May 1, 2012

On May 1, 2012, May Day to some or to others Law Day or Loyalty Day, my thoughts turn toward God and the concept of justice. I recently published an Examiner.com article commemorating Law Day, and I included a quote from Carol Seubert Marx, president of the Ohio State Bar Association as well as video clip from  Ohio State Supreme Court Chief Justice, Maureen O’Connor.  In additional I included commentary on the Spiritual Connection with the God of Justice and made reference to the famous Shakespearean  monologue which begins with “The quality of mercy” in the memorable trial scene in The Merchant of Venice where Portia in the guise of a young male lawyer, enters the court in response to the demand for justice by Shylock, the Jew,  who is really seeking revenge. The article brought to mind the influence of women in the legal system in Ohio which is reflective of the nation as a whole.

http://www.examiner.com/article/law-day-may-1

Listen to the “The Quality of Mercy” speech as performed by Lenora Crichlow, who plays Portia, from The Merchant of Venice, and argues the case for mercy in light of justice.

When I was working on my Ph.D. in English at Indiana University in Bloomington, I enrolled in a course on Shakespeare taught by the late Professor Roy Battenhouse, recognized scholar and author of Shakespeare and the Christian Tradition. The course was especially memorable in that the half dozen or so students met at Professor Battenhouse’s home which was in walking distance from the campus, and his wife served us tea and other homemade delicacies. I was first exposed to The Merchant of Venice during that class, and I completed a paper discussing Shylock’s demand for justice and the resultant resolution of the bond. The paper was later published as an article in The College Language Association Journal XXXV No. 3. March 1992: 353-66, which is now reprinted as a pdf, appropriate reading material on Law Day 2012.

Shylock’s Daniel