This past Sunday, many Christians celebrated the Day of Pentecost. On that day, Christians celebrate the Holy Spirit being fully with us as our ally, resource and confidant. The Holy Spirit fills our hearts with ecstasy and joy to be shared with others, not with negativity, sarcasm or opposition. The Holy Spirit offers us a community to live in that we might learn to come together in ways where everyone profits, and each person being filled with the Holy Spirit, such a community can be a place where everyone’s a prophet.
Amazing to think about, isn’t it? These days, I’m not so sure we are nearly as used to talking about prophets as we about profits. Not to mention what it would be like for everyone to be a prophet. Yet, this is precisely the situation that Simon Peter holds up as a possibility with the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost: “Everyone’s a prophet!”
In the story of the first Day of Pentecost as told in the book of Acts, Peter chooses a text for his sermon from the prophet Joel, and it is a prophecy about prophecy: ‘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’ (Acts 2:17-18).
Joel is saying that, with the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, “Everyone’s a prophet.” What could it possibly mean?
Jesus the Christ is considered by many to be the greatest prophet. At the beginning of his adult ministry, as told in the Gospel of Luke, he professes in his home town of Nazareth that the prophecy of Isaiah has come true as he reads, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).
The poor, the captives, the blind, the oppressed – these are typically the folks who can tell us that not everyone gains from the profits of our financial world. Jesus the Christ, the greatest prophet, is participating in the plight of these people’s lives by himself being poor, oppressed and captive. Precisely by being a prophet, Jesus will reveal to the world how everyone is keeping alive these conditions. This is the role of a prophet: someone who is participating in an unjust condition and revealing it so everyone may help change it.
Jesus also shows us that prophets risk rejection and suffering. Jesus has poured out to us the Holy Spirit at his crucifixion and resurrection.
This is what Pentecost is all about. God is with us, and we can trust God; that is the promise of the Holy Spirit of God in Christ. This is God’s most significant promise: to never abandon us, to never leave us, to always be with us, to always be by our side, to give us the strength we need for whatever difficulty and challenge or obstacle we face in the world.
The Pentecost story reminds us that all of us are family. On that Pentecost Day long ago, Luke tells us that people were drawn together from different nations, different cultures, different languages, and different backgrounds were all united that day by God’s Spirit in Christ. The symbol that day was not a clinched fist to fight off, but an open hand to take hold of and celebrate each other.
The Holy Spirit brings us face to face with God, it brings us, as well, face to face with the world, and then it brings us face to face with the self, and then, of course, something must be done. Something must be filled up, added to, freed from, begun again, ended at once, changed, or created or healed, because nothing stays the same once we have found God within. We become connected to everything, to everyone. We carry the whole world in our hearts. Then, the zeal for justice consumes us. Then, action and prayer are one.
Rev. Tom Cici is the pastor at First Christian Church of Hoopeston (502 E. Main St.). Please go to www.fcchoopeston.org for inspirational sermons and much more.