Musings on Pentecost Sunday (Shavu’ot)

Sunday May 23rd, 2010 is the day of the Anniversary of Pentecost. It is also the day of the Biblical Festival know as Shavu’ot which means Festival of Weeks. It is also known as Hag ha-Bikkurim: Festival of First Fruits and Hag Matan Torateinu: the Festival of the Giving of Torah. So this day is a day that God has chosen as a day of significance and He gave two significant gifts on this day. This day paints a picture of God’s initiation and our response. God’s initiation involved two things.

The first gift from God was of the Torah, the Law, which provided the way and directions to be free from idolatry and immorality and pointed the way to Jesus. It is a day where focus in on what God has established and the importance of surrendering to Him, to walk in His way. One of the practices on this day in Jewish households is the reading of the book of Ruth, which really emphasizes the total surrender to God, of following His way not our way. It also points to the redeeming work of God, through Jesus the Messiah, to establish the way for all that may follow. Now here is an important fact. The Torah serves to lead us to the need of repentance; a written standard exposed the sinfulness and deceitfulness of the heart. The Torah exposes the need for repentance and surrender pointing to the eternal answer. The Torah serves as the lamp showing the way, the way being Jesus.

The other gift from God given on this day, was the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. He is the means by which God’s ways and laws our written on our hearts. The Holy Spirit empowers and brings us to repentance and surrender. On this day, the Holy Spirit came to all who believed. No longer was the Holy Spirit limited to a select few God chose to anoint. Rather, the Holy Spirit indwells all who surrender to God and enter into His Kingdom found through Jesus and what He did at the cross. Being made clean and whole enable the Holy Spirit to reside within, guiding us day by day moment by moment. The being indwelt with the Holy Spirit enables worship in spirit and truth, for without that ongoing presence we all falter.

Ultimately through God’s gifts, He simply gave fully of Himself to give us what we need, to set us free. God’s gifts need a response, an act of worship. Worship exhibited by bringing the first of everything produced during the early Harvest. It is the starting point of all that comes ahead, but it is when the initial rewards are returned back to God as an act of submission. It is a representation of giving fully of self, of surrendering to God fully. God’s precious gifts should bring about a response of total surrender and as we surrender, we receive more from God. When we surrender to the Holy Spirit he is able to move in sanctifying, empowering, and healing. The surrender results in more fruit and a greater Harvest. A genuine response to God of giving back results in God being free to do more. Any such response is one based not on compulsion but on true joy over what God has already given.

What God has given us is precious; freedom from idolatry, darkness, immorality, and selfishness. He has given us Salvation. He has given us life. He has given us His words to direct and the Holy Spirit to lead and empower. It is a wondrous day. How then do you respond to day and the days to come? Do you surrender fully? Do you find ways to respond in love? Do you seek to please God or satisfy self? Check yourself and see what is your response, and if it falters, then wake up and recognize what God has given and done. Reflect on where you were and how He has changed you. Give of yourself as He requests with all you are from the first to the last and ever moment in-between.

Personal Reflection: A gift on this day

Today is a day where God saw fit many years ago to bring into this world the person who became my wife and partner.  It is hard to fully put to words the thoughts, yet God created and gave life to my wife, Liz Blake.   God knitted her together in the womb.  Now it is hard to comprehend what God’s thoughts were when he knitted her together. Was I on his mind when he formed her in the womb?  How does the variance of our wills come into play?  These are answers we do not have as get lost in the complicated quagmire in the paradoxes of understanding God.  I know that today, on this day, God brought Liz to this world and she would one day become my wife.  Now we have moments of joy and pain, struggle and ease.  Yet, God has touched me through her, and I believe her through me.  So I thank God today for the gift of my wife, born many years ago on this day.  So today is a day of thanksgiving and blessing.  Even in thinking about God’s blessing of Liz, my thoughts go to my life journey, the ups and down, the moving past defenses and fears to get to the point where we are today.  God knew Liz needed a man like me as her partner and mate, and vice versa.  Please take time today to thank God for Liz, whether you know her or not.  Take time to thank God for the ways he as blessed you, even if times are tough and struggles and grief cloud your views.  For God is love, and he delights in seeing how we respond to love as our stories play out.  Also please take time to pray for Liz and what God has in store for her in the year to come. If you know her, find a way to bless her and wish her a Happy Birthday.