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The third high festival of the church year, The Day of Pentecost, is observed by us this year on May 23. Sadly, today this festival is often observed to the surprise of most Christians. No one asks, “Do you have your Pentecost tree up or cards sent out yet?” “Are you planning to attend the Pentecost breakfast at church?” For the great feast day of the Holy Spirit, no one asks the question of Christians, “What are you serving for dinner: roast beef, ham, lamb, turkey?” This is likely a good thing since all the secular interests and trappings do not distract us as they do on the other two great feast days.
Lutherans are often accused of neglecting a proper focus on the Holy Spirit. That false accusation usually comes from those who do not understand the person and work of the Spirit. We know the power of God is the Gospel (Romans 1:16) and the focus of the Gospel is upon Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). When Christ and His salvation are preached, the Spirit is at work. If we constantly focus on the power of the Holy Spirit, He is not at work among us. Far from neglecting the Spirit, Lutherans allow Him to fill the lives of their members by preaching Christ constantly.
You regularly pray, “Thy kingdom come.” Have you ever considered how this petition has much to do with Pentecost? Luther explains it this way: “The kingdom of God comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and live godly lives here in time and hereafter in eternity.” It is the Holy Spirit’s work among us to bring God’s kingdom to us.
We live, work, and play now in our earthly kingdom, but the outcome of such lives is death. What a miserable existence darkened by our sinful condition with such black things as pain, sorrow, sickness, loss, failures, and sin! We would have every reason to despair and give up. But there is that other Kingdom, the Kingdom of life, which comes to us in the appealing hues of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
To be citizens of God’s holy Kingdom even as we struggle in the kingdom of this dark world is truly a delight upon which to meditate. The Spirit, poured out on Pentecost to the Church of all ages, brings this glorious Kingdom to you so that you might live in the light of God’s love for you in His Son and enjoy the peace the world can never give to you. God’s Kingdom has graciously come to you. Your sins are all forgiven. You possess even right now life everlasting. You have received in all of its abundance eternal salvation. These things are the Spirit’s gifts to you in Christ.
Thy kingdom come! Thine let it be In time and through eternity!
O let Thy Holy Spirit dwell With us, to rule and guide us well;
From Satan’s mighty pow’r and rage
Preserve Thy Church from age to age. Amen.
(ELH #383 v. 3)