On June 4, 2017, the Church will celebrate Pentecost, or at least Christians who are on the same Liturgical Calendar as us. This day completes our Easter Season. For those who are reading this and thinking ‘Who cares? It’s just another day,” I would respond:
“It’s the BEST day on the Christian calendar and it’s my absolute favorite holiday!”
1. The world received the Holy Spirit!
If you aren’t familiar with the first Pentecost, I’ll let you catch up.
Read Acts 2.
Before this moment, only certain people (think Moses, the prophets, King David, Job, etc.) had limited access to God’s spirit. That changed on Pentecost! On that day and every day after, anyone anywhere at anytime can access God’s spirit, not just a select few.
2. The Church was born!
Pentecost is also the Church’s birthday. As professing believers, we are born again by water and the Spirit into a new family. The Church is not a building; it’s all of us who believe in the grace Christ created when He died for our sins and the sins of the world. We are a family not by birth or blood, but by choice and belief. Moreover, we become Kingdom citizens when we accept Jesus’ forgiveness.
3. Together we have changed the world!
Sure, Greece is credited with the first democracies and Rome with the first republic, but have you ever considered how awful those times were? Slavery was commonplace, and fathers could legally kill their wives and children. I contend that Spirit-led believers helped transform the world because the Spirit had first changed their hearts and lives in the process of Sanctification. Even today, believers are standing up for social justice.
Here’s your challenge this June 4, 2017:
Participate in our Pentecost Photo Scavenger Hunt and light up social media!
Do this activity as a group or individually.
Share one image, a few, or upload all of your responses. Some ideas might be better communicated with a video. Additionally, consider writing something to go with each picture about what the Holy Spirit means to you.
Note: This is not a competition; it is an opportunity to express the meaning and power of the Holy Spirit and the Church in your life.
If you are not aware of the derogatory term ‘Snowflake’ or ‘Generation Snowflake,’ I will catch you up. For the past twenty years or so it has been used to dismiss someone who is upset or hurt by attacking their perceived sense of uniqueness or entitled special-ness.
Alternatively, for those of us who have preschool siblings or small children in our families, you might have a slightly more positive image of snowflakes as they relate to people. I know that I have probably seen the Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood episode, “Snowflake Day,” ten times.
It has an uplifting point, if not nuanced. Here’s what Daniel’s mom tells him, “Well, snowflakes are just like people -they look a lot alike at first, but each one is different, and each one is special. Just like you, Daniel.” This is not a bad sentiment. It recognizes that everyone is different and special.
But snowflakes melt.
And not everyone in the world has access to snow.
I’d submit that we have some better analogies that describe the uniqueness of each person’s perspective: Salt & Light.
Jesus called his disciples “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-14). I’d rather be salt and light than a snowflake any day, and not merely because these are Jesus’ words. Here are some of the benefits of Salt and Light.
Do you want to start or grow a youth ministry at your church?
Here are a couple of simple rules.
Rule 1: If you want to have a youth ministry in your congregation, enlist qualified adults.
Rule 2: If you want to grow your youth ministry, enlist more qualified adults.
I often meet people at church who tell me that I have a gift with children, or youth, or teaching. While I am not going to dismiss encouragement, I sometimes feel like there is a lingering comparison hiding behind those words. It seems like some of these well-meaning people are convinced that they have no such gift or calling.
I would submit that they could be wrong.
Moreover, if you are older than 18 and don’t think you can help with youth, I’d be happy to convince you otherwise.
Saturday, May 6, 2017, Hampton hosted a Makers’ Faire, and while you would be completely justified in wondering how this relates to Jesus or Christian youth, I’d ask for you to give me a minute to show you.
First I encountered my pastor and his wife, Brian and Shan Sixbey, who are also Scout Leaders and Karate for Christ Instructors, at the Makers’ Faire as they helped young people construct a Martian village out of cardboard. Here, I also met a Sea Scout leader. Then I ran into youth from my church. Some were representing their Venture Crew and others their Robotics Club. I even was introduced to their coach, someone completely new to me. Finally, as I was leaving, I bumped into Hannah, one of our young adults who is in the process of becoming an UMC missionary.
I should not have been surprised to see them. I knew that we share nerdy interests, but I tend to compartmentalize my friends. It's a bad habit, I know.
However, I am inspired to start living this maxim:
Make a friend. Be a friend. Bring a friend to Christ.
Jesus, you heal. You did it when you walked this earth. You do it today through your Spirit poured into us mere humans in our brokenness.
Most days I feel lonely, out of touch with others. Yes, some of it is my fault as I shy away from others, as I fear overwhelming them with my strangeness.
But, I’ve been hearing and reading that loneliness has become an epidemic and that people are literally dying from conditions that trace back to a lack of connection. Others have been doing themselves harm being seduced by the lie that they are alone and that no one understands or cares.
Goodness, I at least have someone to talk to every day. I imagine that some don’t, or at least not real conversations with people who are concerned for their well-being. I have a loving family and church, and so many do not. I get daily smiles and hugs. I know that there must be people in my midst that get neither. Show these people to me.
Lord, heal my deafness and blindness to the needs of my neighbors. Help me love them better. Use me as a vessel to heal others hurts. Make me a friend.
Give me eyes to see hurt.
Give me ears to listen.
Give me a ready smile to share instead of being preoccupied with my own concerns.
Give me arms to hold those who are lonely like me.
In your name, I pray, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Leah McGlynn, Youth Ministries Director, York River District UMC