- Date: May 28, 2023
- Bible Reading: Acts 2:1-4; Romans 8:14-39
- Free Resource: Stories of Constant Love (Cross+Gen Education, NL)
- Unit Theme (May 14—May 28): Gifts of God’s Grace
- The Point: God’s gift of the Holy Spirit is a promise that nothing can separate us from God’s love.
Our Pentecost readings give us two perspectives on the Spirit. In Acts, the Spirit empowers us to help others. In Romans, the Spirit fills us with God’s love.
Pentecost: The End and the Beginning
Happy Pentecost! This Sunday marks the end of the Narrative Lectionary year but the beginning of the Church as we know it. We have spent the last nine months journeying through the Bible from Noah’s Ark to the apostle Paul. I hope that you and your faith formation participants have been blessed by your time in Scripture. In this final Narrative Lectionary reading, we have two passages about the Holy Spirit: Acts 2 and Romans 8.
The Spirit for Others
In the Book of Acts, and especially at Jesus’ ascension in Acts 1, the purpose of God’s gift of the Holy Spirit is clear.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”Acts 1:8
The Spirit was given to Jesus’ followers to empower them to spread the kingdom of God through the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection. In other words, the Spirit was given for the sake of others.
The Spirit Comforts
In his writings, Paul does nothing to contradict this point, but—like in Romans 8—he does add another dimension. God gave the Holy Spirit for us, as well. In verse 15, Paul makes it clear that God doesn’t want us to be afraid. On the contrary, the Holy Spirit comforts us and gives us the boldness to call God our Parent. Even though we start out estranged from God (enemies, even, as Paul wrote in Romans 5), the Spirit brings us into relationship and assures us that God has claimed us as children.
The Spirit Helps
A second reason the Spirit is given for us (and not just for others), is that the Spirit helps us. Sometimes, we are overwhelmed by sorrow, anger, or suffering. We know we need help but don’t know what to say or do. In those times and many others, the Spirit helps us pray, even prays for us. The indwelling power of God does not abandon us if we’re not up to snuff, God helps us when we are weak.
The Spirit Stays
While the last actual mention of the Spirit is in verse 27, she continues to help us. As I mentioned in my post from four years ago, Romans 8:38-39 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible:
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:38-39
But the Holy Spirit doesn’t show up here, right? Perhaps not explicitly, but it is the indwelling of the Spirit within us that anchors us to God and is both the source and conduit for the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord to connect to us. It is through the Spirit that the Triune God remains with us, and nothing can take her away from us.
Faith Formation Connection
Pentecost Sunday is a festival day that lends itself to engaging faith formation. Wind, flames, and languages are so often brought to life in classes and worship. The addition of Romans 8 should not stop this, but we should take this opportunity for Paul’s teachings to influence how we teach about the Holy Spirit. Emphasize—in whatever your context is—that God gives us the Spirit both to help others and to help us in times of fear, weakness, and suffering.
Peace and blessings,
Gregory Rawn (Publisher)
During the main Narrative Lectionary year (this year: September 11 to May 28), we provide a free resource download from one of our products to help you in your faith formation ministry. This week, download a free activity “Stories of Constant Love” from our Living the Word: Cross+Gen Education (NL Year 2, 2023-2024) curriculum. This activity can be adapted for use by households, groups, and classes of any size or age range.
Order Faith Formation Resources
Looking for a resource for VBS, summer education, or events? Check out our Learning Together series! These five-lesson units are available on six different topics, one of which is FREE! The other five are much more affordable than standard VBS curricula with pricing starting at $25 for a program with 1-10 participants. Perfect for children’s and intergenerational ministries.
Are you looking for resources for the 2023-2024 program year? You can now order resources for the Narrative Lectionary, Revised Common Lectionary, and even a new Classroom curriculum for PK-2nd and 3rd-6th (check our blog post for a special discount)!
At Spirit & Truth Publishing, we might just have exactly what you are looking for:
- Resource for the Revised Common Lectionary (2023-2024) (intergenerational classroom)
- Resources for the Narrative Lectionary (2023-2024) (products for all ages)
- Classic Sunday School Curriculum (key Bible stories for PK-2nd and 3rd-6th)
- Learning Together: Five-lesson topical units for VBS, Sunday school, children, and intergenerational classes.
- Cross+Generational Confirmation
- Worship and Liturgy Education
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