• Pentecost Sunday
With Matthew 17:22-27 and Acts 2:1-11
• One time God gave me a car. He did it via my brother in law. It was a 1982 Honda civic hatchback. It wasn’t much – it was falling apart and on its last legs – but it was what I needed, when I needed it, and I had it as long as I needed it, not a moment longer.
And from time to time I’ve been able to provide as my brother-in-law provided.
• Today’s reading from Matthew is odd, and I’m not going to entertain how the coin fish thing happened. Jesus gave a gift to Peter for the temple tax.
Remember when Jesus calmed the storm, what the response of the disciples was? Wonder. Amazement. Worship. Who is this man, that the winds and seas obey him? Who is this man, that a coin appears in a fish?
I’m okay leaving some things about Jesus be a mystery.
Also the community Matthew was writing to, they were struggling with identity, Christians and Jews, the Temple has been destroyed, they are people of faith interacting with a corrupt government… This story gave some insight for how that community could live in that time. Live in harmony with your neighbors, and cling to the teachings of Jesus.
• Today’s reading from Acts, the Pentecost reading, God gives a great gift to the people. Just ten days before was the Ascension, when Jesus told the disciples “wait in Jerusalem until you receive power.” At Pentecost the promise, the presence the power of God, given to the disciples. & they immediately proclaim, and people respond.
• Today is ALSO Aldersgate Day. John Wesley receives gift from God, strangely warmed, assurance, yet another gift.
The Aldersgate experience:
John Wesley was 35 years old, ten years a preacher, yet he felt depressed and a failure in ministry. But he went through the motions of faith, and one day he met God again:
“In the evening I went unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter to nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine and saved me from the law of sin and death.” -- John Wesley, Journal, 24 May 1738
• As I said before, no need to rationalize / explain the gifts. The Honda, the coin, the fish, the Holy Spirit, the strangely warmed heart. I can’t rationalize / explain my love for my daughter, it just IS because of who I am. God’s gifts are because of who GOD is. Let the gifts and the scriptures themselves be a reminder of who God is… be drawn to wonder.
Who IS this God who gives such gifts?
• And consider these two things: that God’s gift on Pentecost, on Aldersgate is more than a gift to the disciples, to John Wesley… these are gifts to the world. God gives the church to the world so that the world may receive God’s blessing.
And a gift demands a response.
How might you be as God’s gift to the world?
• Hymn 2237 As A Fire is Meant for Burning
Matthew 17:22-27 (CEB) Pentecost 05/24/15
22 When the disciples came together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered over into human hands. 23 They will kill him. But he will be raised on the third day.” And they were heartbroken.
24 When they came to Capernaum, the people who collected the half-shekel temple tax came to Peter and said, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” 25 “Yes,” he said.
But when they came into the house, Jesus spoke to Peter first.
“What do you think, Simon? From whom do earthly kings collect taxes, from their children or from strangers?”
26 “From strangers,” he said.
Jesus said to him, “Then the children don’t have to pay. 27 But just so we don’t offend them, go to the lake, throw out a fishing line and hook, and take the first fish you catch. When you open its mouth, you will find a shekel coin. Take it and pay the tax for both of us.”