This is the last week of the Narrative Lectionary for this year, Sunday being the festival of Pentecost. We finish our overview of Philippians and read the story of the gift of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2.
Gift of the Holy Spirit
God poured out the Holy Spirit upon the apostles at the festival of Shavuot, seven weeks after Passover. Shavuot was originally a harvest festival (Numbers 28:26-31), but it also celebrated the giving of the Torah to the people of Israel. Like the gift of the Holy Spirit, at Mt. Sinai, the LORD appeared to the people with fire (Exodus 19:18).
You can also hear echoes of:
- God appearing to Moses in a flame of fire (burning bush), giving the divine name (Exodus 3:2).
- God giving the breath of life (Gk. pnoē in LXX, Genesis 2:7) with the “sound like the rush of a violent wind” (Gk. pnoē, Acts 2:2).
So, the gift of the Holy Spirit is connected to the gifts of life, God’s name, the Torah.
Help of the Holy Spirit
These connections work perfectly with the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the breath of life, the very presence of God in our midst, and our guide to living God’s way. At this first baptism of the Spirit (Acts 1:5, cf. Luke 3:16), the Spirit helped the apostles share the gospel with a miracle of languages. John 14:16 even calls the Spirit the Helper (Advocate). It is the Spirit who helps us along the path God has set for us.
Joy from the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit also helps us to pray (Romans 8:26), to rejoice (1 Thessalonians 1:6), and to have peace (John 20:21-22). These are the very things that Paul talks about in our reading from Philippians. Paul does not mention the Holy Spirit directly, but these things are the gifts and works of the Spirit in our lives, and this is a connection you can make.
You can use our free activity this week, “The Help of the Holy Spirit” as a fun illustration of the guidance that the Spirit gives us in our lives. This activity from our Living the Word: Cross+Gen Education product is designed for an intergenerational classroom but can easily be used by different ages individually and even as a concrete activity or demonstration within your worship service.
-Gregory Rawn (Publisher)
2018-2019 (NL Year 1) faith formation materials are now available for purchase. Fall lessons can be downloaded right away! You can download the 2018-2019 Planning Tool and Scope & Sequence to start your planning for the next program year!
For more great ideas on how to engage participants of all ages in the story of God’s love, check out our Living the Word series for elementary students, youth, adults, and intergenerational settings!
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