Once the Spirit Blows In: A Bible Study
for Asbury's Worship
by Rev. Lee Johnson
June 12, 2022
Acts 2.42-47 tells the story of the early Christian Church. The verses paint a clear picture of the activities of the church in the days following Pentecost. It’s a blueprint for what the church is to be and become. Not surprisingly, the church continues to follow that blueprint today. The church gathered to learn. The church gathered to eat. The church gathered for worship and prayer. The church gathered for fellowship and community. The church gathered together its possessions and shared them with all who had need. Such was the work of the church then, and such is the work of the church now. The Acts story also describes a joyful church, filled with awe and wonder, glad and generous hearts. Take a moment to read Acts 2.42-47 and note, for yourself, the workings of the early church. How is your experience of the church today similar to the story of the church told in Acts? How is it different? What activities of the church do you experience as more meaningful?
The early church was “ordered” together by the Holy Spirit, operating in and connected to the power of God. In the Bible, the Spirit, like the wind, is that unseen but noticeable presence of God, a source of power. While there is a mystery that surrounds the Spirit’s presence, it is not a detached mystery, its desire is to be intimately weaved into people’s lives. In the days that followed Pentecost, the Spirit accounted for the awe and wonder that filled the glad and generous hearts of the first believers. That same mystery, that same presence, that same power is eager to be part of our lives, and the work of the church today. It is both personal and corporate. In the first story of Pentecost, the Spirit presented itself in a gust of wind. For us, the question becomes, not will the Spirit present itself to us, but how will it happen? Upon that first gust of wind, the Acts story says, “Many were perplexed asking, ‘what does this mean?’” Well, one thing I know, the Acts story is clear, the Spirit does not knock politely at the door and ask to enter. It wants us to ask questions like “what does this mean?” Often, it seems, just as it did in the first story, the Spirit catches us by surprise. When have you sensed the Spirit’s presence in your life? What was happening? What did it mean to you? How might the Spirit be present in the life of the church today? Where do you see the activities of the Spirit in the church?
Like many in the Kansas City area, this past week, I awoke one night to the sound of tornado sirens. I opened my back door and stepped outside. I was surprised how quiet it was, no wind. But, in the distance, I could hear a “small roar.” Was that the tornado? The next morning, I learned the tornado was not far away. I went to bed that night not anticipating the events that woke me. Part of the Spirit’s work, it seems, is to “wake” us to new ways of thinking, doing, and being. From that first story, the Spirit didn’t come to leave people comfortably unchanged. It arrived bearing change and people were “perplexed.” Change is afoot in the Methodist faith tradition right now. And yes, many are perplexed literally asking “what does this mean?” I suspect it means, the Spirit is presenting itself once again, and we are to find new ways of learning, new ways of serving, new ways of gathering so filled with awe and wonder our hearts might be made all the more glad and generous. How do you sense and understand the Spirit to be at work in the church right now? If you are perplexed, you are in historically good company.
Acts 2: 42-47
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"Fill me, Holy Spirit, with awe and wonder."