Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Job 20-21; Acts 10:24-48
44 While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell on everyone who heard the word. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 They heard them speaking in other languages and praising God. Peter asked, 47 “These people have received the Holy Spirit just as we have. Surely no one can stop them from being baptized with water, can they?” 48 He directed that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited Peter to stay for several days. (Acts 10:44-48, Common English Bible).
Some years ago I was involved in a community Thanksgiving service in a community I served. The little church building the service was in was packed. It was an old building and the acoustics were great. Children’s choirs from a couple of different congregations. Each sang a couple of songs and then they combined. When those kids sang together, all I can say is WOW.
When the kids finished it was my turn. I was thinking that P.T. Barnum once said something about not following children or animal acts. Apparently, I was wrong. W.C. Fields did say never to work with children or dogs. Regardless of who may have said that I think they were wrong.
It was a highlight in my personal career. I felt the Spirit move in that service in ways I had never felt before. It was a powerful time. As I got up t preach, I didn’t think about the risk of “following kids.” I only thought about how I was feeling the Spiritu moving. The Spirit started moving during those kids. Now I got to preach in that Spirit-rich environment. It never even occurred to me that I was standing in a position to mess all this up. The only thing I knew was, I got to preach (yes, it was a privilege) to a large group of people, packed into a small space with the Holy Spirit moving in a way I had never experienced. Could there be a better moment for a preacher than this?
As the sermon time continued those gathered were responsive in a way this United Methodist preacher had never experienced. I can safely say I had never experienced this much fun preaching before and though I know I am a creature who falls way short of the glory of God. That night, I don’t think I could have messed up the sermon.
My experience was not Peter’s experience. No acts of covenantal symbolism happened. All the people present weren’t baptized that night. Most probably had been years before. It wasn’t about a bunch of kids singing together or a pastor preaching in a community worship service. What it was about was really pretty simple even though it was extraordinarily powerful. The people of the community, not so much the geographic community, but the community of faith were gathered in the name of Jesus Christ. We sang and we worshipped and God touched everyone there in a powerful way.
I would love, as I write this many years later, to tell you that it was a night none of us would ever forget. The truth is, I can’t say that. The only one I can talk about is me. While I do remember, sitting here and writing this story is the first time I have thought about it in years. I have no idea if others present that night have thought about it again or not. It is my prayer that even if they don’t remember the details, they remember that one November night they were in the presence of the Holy Spirit and felt the power of God.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
With Joy and Thankfulness,
Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved