Memorial Day and Pentecost Sunday. I don’t ever remember them occurring on the same weekend, but I’m sure they do ever so often. Maybe for them to fall together this year is prophetic.
While we honor all American veterans on Veterans Day, Memorial Day is set apart to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in their service to this country. The United States is free today because our vets chose to put their lives on the line for our liberty. Jesus said that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend. These true heroes did just that. To each of them and their loved ones throughout our history, we owe an unpayable debt.
Pentecost is one of seven feasts ordained by God in the Old Testament, occurring fifty days after the feast of Passover. On a particular Pentecost about two thousand years ago, Jews from all over the world gathered in Jerusalem for the celebration, as was the custom.The apostles were together, probably in the upper room where they had recently celebrated Passover with Jesus, the night before His crucifixion. The resurrected Jesus had ascended from earth to heaven several days before, telling them to remain in Jerusalem until they received the power God had promised them to enable them to be witnesses of His Kingdom in Jerusalem and throughout the world. The second chapter of Acts describes the events on that particular morning. A violent, rushing wind filled the house, and tongues of fire rested on each of them. They began to speak in languages that they didn’t know. A crowd gathered outside, drawn by the commotion. Those in the crowd were amazed to hear uneducated Galilleans speaking the mighty works of God in their own various languages. Even more amazing, Peter who had only weeks before denied Jesus three times, now filled with the Holy Spirit of God, spoke to the crowds. With no notes, just the power of God, Peter recounted the story of Jesus. The hearts of three thousand Jews were pierced, each changed forever. The world was never to be the same.
Jesus laid down His life for us. Because He made the ultimate sacrifice, we are able to access the power of the Holy Spirit. This power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to each of us. As we allow Him to fill us with His life and love, we are able to lay down our need for control and self centeredness, and live the lives we were destined to live.