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Readings for Sunday, May 28, 2023




The First Reading is from Acts 2:1-21.  Our message describes the events on the day of Pentecost.  All those meeting in the upper room had received instruction from Jesus Christ

and they had received his commission to be worldwide witnesses to all that had happened, from the words of God at the baptism of Jesus Christ¸ through his trial and crucifixion, his resurrection and his ascension to heaven.  Now they prayed and waited for the promise of Jesus Christ to be fulfilled; for them to be empowered by the Holy Spirit.  The literal translation is “when the day of Pentecost is fulfilled”.  The time for digesting all the wondrous events following, and listening to Jesus Christ was over.  Now was the time to receive from the Holy Spirit the wisdom and courage necessary to establish the church of Jesus Christ.  Tongues of fire descended on many.  There is a debate among scholars about who received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  Was it just the eleven apostles or was it the 120 believers spoken of in verse 1:15 before our reading.  The speech of Peter in verses 17 & 18 of today’s reading indicates that the tongues of fire descended on all those believers present, on women as well as men and thus on more than just the apostles.  The coming of the Holy Spirit was accompanied by the sound of a violent wind.  There were many devout Jews outside the room where the believers were gathered.  Being devout, the Jews would have known that in the Old Testament the presence of God was often announced by the sound of a violent wind.  The Jews were perplexed by who was speaking in many tongues, because they looked like Galileans, which was a code word for illiterate peasants, as opposed to intellectual Jerusalemites.  Peter addresses their perplexity with a quote from Joel that says that both men, and women, young and old, slave and free will receive the Holy Spirit, clearly not just eleven adult males.  The first few words of Peter’s quote from Joel can be misleading, “in the last days” do not refer to “the last days” referring to the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ but instead to the last days spoken of by Joel.  Peter, in verse 2:38 following today’s reading, makes this even clearer, not with the words of an Old Testament prophet, but with his own testimony, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.  And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Clearly women also received the Holy Spirit.  In verses 5 thru 12 it is clear that those present from other nations understood those speaking in their native tongues.  The speaking in tongues of today’s message is different from that described by Paul in 1 Cor.12:10 which was understood by God but required an interpreter to be understood by others.  These words spoken in tongues were understood by everyone even those from foreign lands.  Our reading closes with the truism “Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”    The assumption is that anyone who calls on the name of the Lord has absolute faith in the Lord.  



The Reading:

When the day of Pentecost had come, (the apostles) were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire 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 languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

       Now, there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem.  And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.  Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?  And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?  Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.  All were amazed and perplexed saying to one another, “What does this mean?  But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.” 

       But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say.  Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning.  No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.  Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.  And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist.  The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.  Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”





The 2nd reading is from 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13.  It may seem that today’s reading   breaks into the middle of a sentence by Paul to the Corinthians.  One of the reasons we start in the middle of a sentence by Paul is that there is not agreement by scholars on what was meant and implied by Paul in verses 3a and a few previous verses.  Also, there is no need for verses 3a and previous verses, our reading is complete in itself as is seen in the summary of the reading in verse 7.  “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”  There is no real disagreement in what was meant by Paul in our reading, in verses 3b through 13.  Paul is teaching us that the gifts we each have are a gift from God and they were given to us to aid us in our service to God.  The main emphasis in our reading is on unity in diversity.  The word “same” is repeated six times in our reading.  The different gifts come from the same Spirit/Lord/God.


The Reading:

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.  To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.  All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.  The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts, and though all its parts are many, they form one body.  So it is with Christ.  For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 

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