Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Readings for May 27, 2012

This coming Sunday is Pentecost! According to “Acts of the Apostles” the Holy Spirit overcame the disciples and wonderful things started happening through them. Pentecost was not, however, a “Christian” religious holiday. It was a Jewish holiday which celebrated the spring harvest 50 days after Passover. The Jewish holiday is known as Shavuot, or the festival of the weeks. Typically, the 10 Commandments are read at synagogue during Shavuot. This year it is celebrated on May 26 to May 28. You can find more information at Chabad.org.

Our readings for this week are:

Acts 2:1-21 – The disciples were all in one place in Jerusalem, but where? We presume that they met at the same place where they had their last meal with Jesus, the “Upper Room”. What did they hear? What did they see? And, most importantly, what did they begin to do? Jerusalem was filled with visitors for the celebration of Shavuot. Where had the visitors come from? Who became the preacher? What scripture lesson did he use. The sermon goes to verse 36 and the results of the sermon is recorded in verses 37-41. How many people became members of the new community?

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b – What has God done? Why do the creatures wait? What does the breath of God do? The Hebrew word for breath, “ruach”, is also translated as “wind” and “spirit”. How long will the psalmist praise God? The first half of verse 35 is left off because the lectionary only wants to emphasize the positive in this reading and 35a is too much of a downer.

Romans 8:22-27 – What is all of creation doing and why? What do we believers wait for according to Paul? What do we have when we are saved? Why does the Spirit come to us? What does the Spirit do for us?

John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15 – The Greek word used in this passage about the Spirit of God is “parakletos” or “Paraclete” and is variously translated as “Comforter”, “Helper”, “Advocate”, “Counselor”, “Companion” and in a few other ways. I prefer “Advocate” because God’s Spirit, along with all of the other things it does, defends us from the “Accuser” which is what the word “satan” or “hasatan” means. In verse 15:26, what does the Spirit do? In verse 16:8, what will the Spirit show the world? This passage, 16:8-11, is very interesting and you should spend some time reflecting on it. Why is the world wrong about sin? (The answer seems clear, but puzzling non-the-less. See John 9:41.) Why is the world wrong about righteousness? And why is the world wrong about judgment? Again, the answers seem puzzling. What else will the Spirit of Truth do when it comes to us?

May the Spirit of the Lord, the Comforter, Helper, Counselor, Companion and Advocate, guide you in your readings this week and in all that you do.

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