This Sunday is the day the church celebrates Pentecost, the day Holy Spirit was poured out on the church community. It is truly a day to celebrate. The church as we know it was baptized in fire and went forth into the world. But we were not baptized as individuals, we are baptized as a community.
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” -Acts 2:1-4, ESV
While the church went on to then spread and grow all over the globe, it built community wherever it went. God is not calling us to be individuals, He’s uniting us into one body.
When we moved to Hawaii, it was several months before found a church to call home. Away from family and building our home, we went all over island trying to find a place to call home. Trinity Presbyterian came recommended but for some reason, it was quite awhile before we finally drove the nine miles across Kailua. The church was not what we expected. We didn’t know any of the songs they sang. There was liturgical call and response worship. It was small.
It was one of the greatest blessings we’ve ever received. We left that day with ohana (family).
That very evening we were welcomed into the home of a couple we quickly became friends with. They led a small group we grew to love and introduced me to my job at the church. The pastor invited us over for our first holiday away from family. We were surrounded and invited in. We found a community.
We can’t walk the Christian walk without community.
The Spirit equips us and strengthens us to spread the Gospel and to grow in community. As the Spirit works in our hearts, we should be drawn to love the Body of Christ and to sacrifice ourselves for the whole.
At the end of the chapter, we see the outcome of the Spirit being poured out on the believers. They are devoted to the truth of God. They are generous towards one another and the needy. They are faithful to gathering together and committed to hospitality. As a result, their numbers increased.
We can’t walk this walk alone. We need to be encouraged by other believers. If I had been left here without a church to claim as my own, my faith would have dwindled. I could have listened to podcasts or read brilliant Christian writers. But I didn’t just need knowledge. I needed flesh and blood fellow sojourners to come alongside me. I needed skillsets, gifts, and opinions different than my own. I needed to see how God works in other peoples lives. I needed to rejoice and weep with friends and have them do the same.
Left to myself, I draw in those like me. But I need to see the diversity of the Body of Christ. Pentecost reminds us that we need this community and this diversity. We do not stay put, we go.
Being an island church, and a military church, we do a lot of sending. We gather believers, strengthen each other, and then quickly disperse all over the world. The young Church did a lot of this.
I am so grateful for the model I’ve seen set here and for the reminder that I am called to seek community. It doesn’t matter if I’m staying put for a lifetime, for the duration of military orders, or only for a few months. I can’t walk this walk alone.