Today is Pentecost Sunday, the day Christians remember the coming of the Holy Spirit. The story is told in Acts chapter 2.
50 days following Passover Jews celebrate the high holy feast called Shavuot, or Pentecost, to commemorate when God gave the Law through Moses to the Jewish people, carving the 10 Commandments in stone. We remembered that feast Wednesday this last week. God’s Law (Torah) contains hundreds of stipulations covering every aspect of life. These detailed laws are a fence keeping the Jews back from the precipice of disobedience.
While the Law carved on stones was a great gift the Prophet Jeremiah promised that one day God would do something even more wonderful – he would carve his law INSIDE the hearts of his people.
“This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people (Jeremiah 31:33).”
This “law in our hearts” takes the fence from outside to inside, so that our motives and desires not just our behaviors conform to God’s plan.
This is what Christians believe happened on Pentecost Sunday. We believe that the coming of the Holy Spirit in power and fire brought the fence of God’s Torah into our hearts. This fulfilled the promises of Shavuot. Now God doesn’t have to restrain our behaviors, he can lead and guide us with the Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit God now lives within his people, making us, not a physical building, his temple.
Today we remember that all those who welcome the Holy Spirit are free from the Law. We are free not to ignore the Law but to have the Law INSIDE us, compelling our desires not constraining and restraining our actions. Pentecost means that we are guided by God with our will, not against it. We are free to fulfill the Law because Jesus himself has already completed it, and then by living in us living it through us.
“God we thank you for the power and purpose of Pentecost. We thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to be with, in, and upon us. We thank you that the Spirit has come to write you Law, your will upon our hearts. This means we are free, not compelled to follow you! Thank you for the freedom of Pentecost. Thank you for the sweet presence of your Spirit, that you guide us and comfort us, and teach us, and grant us power to live Jesus’ character and Jesus’ actions. Renew again the vividness of Pentecost in our lives and in our churches. We ask for a reawakening of this great gift. Come, Holy Spirit and once again fulfill the promises of Shavuot! In Jesus!”
Today is the second day of Shavuot, the Jewish holiday that commemorates, the day God gave us the Ten Commandments and the Torah. Shavuot is one of the three major festivals (the other two being Passover and Sukkot). In biblical times, Jews would travel from all over the Mediterranean to Jerusalem to make sacrifices at the Temple during these three festivals. Historically, Shavuot commemorates God’s encounter with Moses on Mount Sinai, when he gave the Torah to his people Israel.
Here is a list of the 10 Commandments that God gave to Moses and Israel and through them to the rest of humanity for all time. These stipulations are the “blueprints” for how God designed life to work. As the “engineer” he has wired into our being these standards. I may be “free” to pour sand in my car’s gas tank, but the manual drafted by the engineers who designed the car warns against it. In the same way we are “free” to disobey these commands, but we are not in the end “free.” We don’t break the 10 Commands; breaking them breaks us!
“God, give us strength to keep your Law!”
“You are to have no other gods before me.”
“You are not to make for yourselves a carved image or any kind of representation of anything in heaven above, on the earth beneath or in the water below the shoreline. You are not to bow down to them or serve them; for I, ADONAI your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sins of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but displaying grace to the thousandth generation of those who love me and obey my commands.”
“You are not to use lightly the name of ADONAI your God, because ADONAI will not leave unpunished someone who uses his name lightly.”
“Remember the day, Shabbat, to set it apart for God. You have six days to labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Shabbat for ADONAI your God. On it, you are not to do any kind of work -not you, your son or your daughter, not your male or female slave, not your livestock, and not the foreigner staying with you inside the gates to your property. For in six days, ADONAI made heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. This is why ADONAI blessed the day, Shabbat, and separated it for himself.”
“Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land which ADONAI your God is giving you.”
“Do not murder.”
“Do not commit adultery.”
“Do not steal.”
“Do not give false evidence against your neighbor.”
“Do not covet your neighbor’s house; do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female slave, his ox, his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
Today is Shavuot, the Jewish holiday that commemorates, the day God gave us the Ten Commandments and the Torah. Shavuot is one of the three major festivals (the other two being Passover and Sukkot). In biblical times, Jews would travel from all over the Mediterranean to Jerusalem to make sacrifices at the Temple during these three festivals. Historically, Shavuot commemorates God’s encounter with Moses on Mount Sinai, when he gave the Torah to his people Israel.
Last night Jews all over the world began their celebration with all night studies of the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. As the story goes, the scriptures say, “It came to pass on the third day when it was morning, that there were thunder claps and lightning flashes, and a thick cloud was upon the mountain, and a very powerful blast of a shofar, and the entire nation that was in the camp shuddered.” In other words, God was already on the top of the Mountain waiting for his people to wake up and hear his words! They had overslept, so he had to wake them! So on the first evening of the holiday Jews spend all night studying Torah, to remember that they screwed up and overslept and that they will never so again!
But Shavuot doesn’t end in an all-nighter. When God finished giving his words, Israel suddenly realized that their plates were not “Kosher,” as the new law required. So while they made their plates and utensils they ate only dairy.
So….today the Jews do this as well. For the next 48 hours they eat pizza, Cookies and Cream Ice Cream, gourmet cheese and anything else of milk. It’s Hagan-Daz for dinner!
“God, may we never again sleep through your coming. You have given us your word, your law, your love, and most of all yourself. We will stir ourselves and stay alert. Remind us that you are always waiting to be with us, to speak with us, to listen and guide us by your Law and your love. Today, during Shavuot, we are reminded to thank you not only for your Law, but for your people Israel who have received and then shared this Torah with all the world. We are all the better for knowing you and what you require of us. We also ask for your grace where we do not match your Law’s requirements. Give us strength to remain vigilant… And God, bless the ice cream!”
Woody Allen said what?
In another example of a Hollywood type waxing foolish political commentary the eccentric film director/actor/producer recently said he would be a “cool idea” for President Barack Obama to be dictator for a few years. He said Obama could then “get things done” without all the bother of having to counter opposing views getting in the way. … In an interview published by the Spanish language newspaper La Vanguardia , Allen offered, “I am pleased with Obama. I think he’s brilliant. The Republican Party should get out of his way and stop trying to hurt him.”
I see two problems here: First, and most importantly, the idea he’s touting is idiotic and grossly un-American. Ideas should be judged on their merit alone, aside from the messenger who delivers them. And this idea, even had it been championed by Billy Graham or Joe DiMaggio or Mickey Mouse would be on its face, ludicrous and even evil. No human, Obama in included as the wisdom or self control to handle absolute power. Power tends to corrupt; absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely. Let’s not try this folly again…
But this dumb idea wasn’t spouted by a messenger of solid character. This “wisdom” comes from the nutcase who, among other twisted behavior took nude photos of his lover Mia Farrow’s teen-age adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn, then ended up marrying her after separating from Farrow when she claimed he molested their seven-year-old adopted daughter, Dylan. Can anyone say, “perverse!” Yes, Woody Allen is an artistic genius…But genius has nothing to do with goodness or wisdom. Not only is his idea stupid, he himself, by the hollowness of his own soul and the blatant corruption of his own character is utterly disqualified to pontificate about the path to social reform? Ideas should stand or fall on their own, apart from their messengers. But when bad ideas come from bad people… well let’s just say it’s time to look for other visions and other visionaries!
So instead, how ’bout this for a proposal? It comes not from me – bound by my own folly – but from the wisdom of sages of many ages. Let’s make Jesus Lord, even “dictator for a few years. Let him go to work fixing our problems! We’ll turn things over lock stock and barrel to this proven “KING OF KINGS,” then let us all “get out of the way” and let him fix what we’ve busted up in his own world! There’s a good idea from the only truly reliable Source…
“God, we know the world is a mess. We know things are chaotic and that no human solutions are workable. Jesus, we release control of our own lives and of this world and ask you to take to your rightful place of leadership. You are King. You should be in utter control of things. We step aside in the spheres that we manage and give you complete right to work. Jesus, come take over!”