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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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What is Pentecost really about?

"Grace: God's love given freely." These five words changed my life forever.

I can still see my pastor standing in front of my first communion class, trying to impress upon our 10- and 11-year-old hearts and minds just how much God loves us. Well, I was impressed. In hearing those words, I first heard the whisper of the Spirit calling me — calling me to share that generous and incredible love with others.

At age 11, I was overwhelmed: God loves me just because? I don't have to do anything to earn it? And I was excited. God loves me. God loves my family and friends. God loves everybody. And it's a free gift. In that moment I knew God was calling me to be an evangelist — to go out and share the good news of God's love for the world.

More than 20 years have gone by since I sat in that room and heard those words. I'm still just as excited and awed by God's love for the world. As we enter into this season of Pentecost, this memory is particularly poignant for me. What must it have been like for the disciples to receive the Spirit? I've heard whispers, though some days louder than others. But for the disciples it was like a rush of a violent wind entering the whole house. And tongues of fire appeared before them. Then they started speaking in tongues.

Amid their awe and fear and wondering about what comes next, the excitement of the power of God and the Spirit couldn't contain them. Peter's Pentecost sermon proclaims it all: God was glorified through the raising up of Jesus from the dead and his ascension to the right hand of God — and now they have received the gift of the Spirit. Peter tells those with him that the gift of baptism in the name of Jesus is available to all people and so is the Spirit.

Now I'm getting excited all over again because what Peter said in 27 verses (Acts 2:14-41) is what my pastor said in five words. I just can't help myself. I want to share what God has done in Jesus with everyone I meet. That's what the season of Pentecost is really all about: the gift of the Spirit and the sending of God's people into the world. We are to share the joy and excitement of God's love given freely to all people.

I'm reminded of a post-communion canticle from the Lutheran Book of Worship that I grew up singing: "Thank the Lord and sing his praise, tell everyone what God has done. Let all who seek the Lord rejoice and proudly bear his name."

Will you join me this Pentecost and help share the exciting news of God's love for the world in your community?


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