There’s a debate raging amongst theologians. Which church holiday is the most significant one? Some argue that it is Christmas, the day we celebrate God coming to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Others argue that it is Easter, the day we celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the dead. And still others argue that it is Pentecost, the day we celebrate the birth of the church through the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. An argument can be made for any of the three. Some claim that if the Pentecost event never took place, the early church would have fizzled out after a generation or so. If it weren’t for the Pentecost event, we would not be here today. Of course, that argument could be made for any of the three church holidays.
Sunday, June 4th, is Pentecost Sunday. The story of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples is one of chaos. First a great wind is heard outside of the place where all the believers (about 120 of them) had gathered. Then that wind apparently blew the doors wide open, and entered into the room. And along with this wind came little tongues of flame that lit upon each and every disciple, settling right over their heads.
And each disciple was filled with the Holy Spirit and was given the ability to speak a foreign language. This was important because those who had gathered for the Jewish feast of Pentecost were first attracted to where the disciples were by all the ruckus and noise of the wind, and then they heard the story of Jesus proclaimed in their own native tongues. It is a reverse of the story of the Tower of Babel in which God confused the language of the people so that they could no longer communicate with one another. Here, God is making it possible for these people from Galilee to share the story of Jesus Christ in a tongue they had never spoken before. This is the only time this ever happens in the Scriptures.
It gave the early church the boost that it needed. We are told that over 5000 people took the disciples’ message to heart and became followers of Jesus on that day alone. All of those believers, we are told, devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship with one another. One of the apostles must have had the spiritual gift of administration because they were able to assimilate all these people into the life of the church. The Book of Acts tells us that they basically formed house churches where people met and shared meals and the Lord’s Supper together. It was an ideal time in the life of the early church.
After almost 2000 years, the church continues to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and to live out the commands to love our neighbor as ourselves. That is our purpose. The church is the body of Christ; the hands and feet of Christ. We are called to be a blessing to others, to share grace and compassion, forgiveness and healing. We have such wonderful news to share: Jesus loves you no matter what! It is a word that every person on the planet needs to hear.
So on June 4th, we’ll celebrate the ongoing mission of the church to transform lives and change the world. There will be a cake (what kind of birthday party would it be if there wasn’t a cake?) to sweeten our celebration. And we’ll look forward to many more years of service to others.
Sermon Texts, Themes, and Titles for June
We strive to make worship meaningful, relevant, and challenging each and every Sunday. You are challenged to make worship a regular part of your life. You are invited to take some time to read the Scripture and reflect on the passages before each worship service.
June 4th: Bedlam! The Scripture passage will be Acts 2:1-21, and the theme will be the purpose of the church.
June 11th: The Scripture passage will be Genesis 1:1-2:4a and the theme will be God as Creator.
June 18th: Dead to Sin? The Scripture passage will be Romans 6:1-11 and the theme will be Spirit-filled living.
June 25th: Carol Mason, Guest Preacher.
July 2nd: Dry Bones! The Scripture passage will be Ezekiel 37:1-14 and the theme will be God’s ability to breath new life into dead things.
Worship is a vital part of a growing and vibrant faith. So make sure you attend on a regular basis. And bring a friend or two with you. It’s a great way to introduce someone to Jesus.
Centralia First UMC's Strategic Plan
Vision: To practice extravagant hospitality and live out the radical inclusivity that Jesus Christ modeled for us so that all persons find a safe harbor in this church.
There are so many people in our community who have felt unwelcomed by the church in general. Particular subgroups (LGBT and those who struggle with mental illness for example) have been judged and condemned, and often feel that the church is an enemy as opposed to a source of comfort and support.Throughout his ministry, Jesus was constantly reaching out and incorporating into his ministry the disenfranchised and marginalized.His unconditional love and acceptance of others was the catalyst of reconciliation and transformation.
Our target audience is all those who have felt unwelcomed by the Church, as well as the millennial generation who do not see homosexuality as a sin. Given the progressive nature of this vision, those of a more liberal mindset would also be targeted.
One of the first action steps would be for us to launch a study on officially becoming a Reconciling Congregation. The Reconciling Ministries Network only has one official step in becoming a reconciling congregation, and that is to craft a welcoming statement.After the church officially adopts this welcoming statement, individuals would be given the opportunity to declare themselves Reconciling United Methodists.
A second action step in this plan is to rework our published information regarding our church to reflect this change. Newsletters, websites, Facebook page, brochure, etc. would all have to be updated.
A third action step is to establish and nurture a deepening relationship with the student body at Centralia College. In order to reach out to the millennial generation, we would take advantage of our close proximity to Centralia College.Some actions steps include strengthening our connection with the College by holding a Pastor Chat type gathering on a weekly basis at the new Student Union building upon it’s completion.
Another action step is to erect a chalkboard of some sort that engages the students in thought-provoking ways. For example, on the chalkboard are printed, “My Biggest Regret…” and people are invited to share their thoughts.At another time, the words, “Love is…” are printed on the chalkboard, and students are again asked to share their thoughts.This could be an ongoing interaction.Results would be posted on our Facebook page as well as our website.
The timeline for these action steps vary. The goal of becoming a Reconciling Congregation can begin immediately so that it is completed by the end of January 2017.
The chalkboard outreach is in process and should be up by the end of 2016.
And as soon as the TransAlta Student Commons is completed (scheduled to be done by September 2016) we will begin to hold our Pastor Chats there. The hope is to offer the students an opportunity to meet and get to know the pastor, and maybe even engage the pastor in some theological conversation.Hopefully, these contacts will eventually lead to more millennials worshipping in our church.
Benchmarks we will be striving to meet include a greater participation from the LGTQ community in the life of the church.
Another benchmark will be increased participation in worship, outreach, missions, etc. from the millennial generation. The millennial generation is defined as people born between 1977 and 1994.
The stakeholders include the pastor and all the leadership team. They will be primarily responsible for carrying out and sharing this vision.
Most of the action steps do not require any additional funds.
We will begin by sharing our vision with the rest of the leadership team. Their buy in will be key.We will also use publications such as our newsletter to communicate the plan to the congregation.Our website and Facebook page will also be key in spreading the word.