It is the season of graduations. Colleges for the most part had their graduations early last month; high schools have been more recently. Amazing Scholars Academy Preschool had its graduation too, for the children going on to kindergarten. The ceremony of graduation is always a big deal, with special clothing—special robes and “hats”—and special music—where else is “Pomp and Circumstance” ever heard? A graduation is a recognition of an accomplishment, the reaching of a milestone. And yet it is also the start of something new, drawing on what has been learned.
Pentecost is like that too, and each of us in our journey as a follower of Jesus, has these features.
Jesus has already told the disciples—at the Last Supper, before he is executed and then raised to new life—"I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you”. So when Pentecost comes—when that “moment” of the Holy Spirit arriving happens (the “graduation” to the new way of living), that begins this new phase of their lives as his followers. But they will draw on “all that I have said to you”—reminded by the Holy Spirit. So this new thing that they are about draws on what they have learned from Jesus, and this new “Holy Spirit” which empowers them helps them to remember what they have already learned.
You see, like a graduation, Pentecost doesn’t mean that the new situation has nothing to do with what led to it. It is the applying of what has been learned in a new reality. Graduation is not a hoop to jump through to then begin, disconnected from what led to it—it is the recognition of having learned what was needed to be learned to start the new reality—and apply in the new reality, innovatively, what one is equipped to do.
We are to be led by the Holy Spirit, empowered to live out the teachings of Jesus. There will be new experiences that we’ve not exactly prepared for—and the Holy Spirit will guide us in responding to them by reminding us of what we learned, and how to translate it in the new situation. Following Jesus means trusting in the Holy Spirit to guide us—the Holy Spirit that Jesus PROMISED would do that. We can’t prepare for every new situation, but we are to trust in the promise that the Holy Spirit guides us, empowers us, and reminds us of that “translation”.
NEW TESTAMENT Acts 2:1-21
1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’ 12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ 13 But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’
14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
17 “In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
20 The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
GOSPEL John 14:8-17, 25-27
8 Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ 9 Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
15 ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
25‘I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.