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This Weeks Sermons

Are You Pentecostal?
Acts 2:1-21

The well-known author and preacher Fred Craddock tells a rather funny story about a lecture he was giving: A few years ago, when he was on the west coast speaking at a seminary, just before the first lecture, one of the students stood up and said, "Before you speak, I need to know if you are Pentecostal." The room grew silent. Craddock said he looked around for the Dean of the seminary! He was nowhere to be found.

The student continued with his quiz right in front of everybody. Craddock was taken aback, and so he said, "Do you mean do I belong to the Pentecostal Church?" He said, "No, I mean are you Pentecostal?" Craddock said, "Are you asking me if I am charismatic?" the student said, "I am asking you if you are Pentecostal." Craddock said, "Do you want to know if I speak in tongues?" He said, "I want to know if you are Pentecostal." Craddock said, "I don't know what your question is." The student said, "Obviously, you are not Pentecostal." He left.

What are we talking about this morning? Is the church supposed to use the word Pentecost only as a noun or can it be used as an adjective? And so I ask you: Are you Pentecostal?

In spite of the fact that the church doesn't know what the adjective means, the church insists that the word remain in our vocabulary as an adjective. The church is unwilling for the word simply to be a noun, to represent a date, a place, an event in the history of the church, refuses for it to be simply a memory, an item, something back there somewhere. The church insists that the word is an adjective; it describes the church. The word, then, is "Pentecostal."

If the church is alive in the world it is Pentecostal. And you thought we were Methodist! [Insert your own tradition here.]

How do we keep this aliveness, this fire burning, this spirit moving? What must exist in us, around us, and through us, if we are to be Pentecostal? Simply these three things:

  • We Are To Be Of One Accord
  • We Are To Join Together Constantly in Prayer
  • We Are To Repent
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Leonard Sweets Sermon

Breathe on Me, Breath of God
Acts 2:1-21

Let me begin with three quick stories. See if you can find the common thread that runs through them.

The First Story is about a woman who lives here in Texas. She is a motivational speaker who is often asked to give the key-note address at conventions and convocations.

Recently she returned home after speaking five nights in a row. Her husband said: "Honey, I know you must be really tired. Why don't you "sleep in" in the morning?"

That sounded good to her, so she did stay in bed longer than usual. When she finally got up she put on an old worn-out blue robe that was frayed and faded but comfortable… and some old house-shoes that had no back to them… the kind that you have to slide your foot into them… and then slide your foot as you walk to keep them on. Then, she walked by a mirror and saw that her hair was a major disaster… so she stopped and put some of those big pink plastic rollers in her hair. That done, she headed for the kitchen.

When she walked into the kitchen to get her morning coffee, she noticed it immediately. Her husband had forgotten to take out the trash! In that community if you didn't get your trash out on time, it was tough luck. They would not wait for you.

So she grabbed the two big trash bags quickly and began to shuffle outside...

  • pulling the heavy trash bags along the ground,
  • trying to keep her worn-out robe closed by holding her arms close together,
  • sliding her feet along to keep her house-shoes on,
  • and sporting huge pink plastic rollers in her hair.
Just at that moment, the garbage truck was pulling away… she shouted to the driver: "Am I too late?" And he took one look at her and replied: "No, hop on!"

The Second Story comes from Dr. Jim Standiford, who is pastor of First United Methodist in San Diego. (FUMC, San Diego, October 31, 2004, "A Vocabulary of Faith Is What America Needs")

When Jim first came to San Diego, he played golf a couple of times with a man named Lawson Cooke. Some months later, Jim's wife said: "Jim, you used to play golf with Lawson Cooke, but you two haven't played together for some time now. Why don't you play golf with Lawson Cooke anymore?"

Jim replied: "Well, would you play golf with somebody who kicked his ball out of the rough into the fairway… or took a countless number of mulligans… or hit the wrong ball… or didn't write down the right score on the score card and kept hitting ball after ball into the lake?"

She said: "No." And Jim said: "Well, Lawson Cooke wouldn't either!!!"

The Third Story comes from a minister who put an ad in the local paper for a well-rounded handyman, who could fix things around the church and help out with routine chores.

The very next morning after the ad ran, a well-dressed young man came and asked to speak to the minister. The pastor "sized up" the young man… and then asked him a flurry of questions:
  • Can you start a fire? "Yes Sir!" Can you have breakfast ready by 7:00 a.m. every morning? "Yes Sir!"
  • Can you polish the silver and wash the dishes? "Yes Sir!"
  • Can you keep things picked up and neat… and the lawn mowed? "Yes Sir!"
And the minister continued: "And, of course, there will be electrical problems and unexpected leaking pipes and restroom overflows and… wait a minute! The young man interrupted, "I came here to make arrangements for my wedding. But if it's going to be like that, I think I'll just forget the whole thing!"

Now, all three of these stories are humorous. They made me laugh when I first heard them… but what is even better about them (and is the common thread that runs through them and links them together)… is the fact that we know these three stories the only way we could… The people telling the stories (the motivational speaker and the two pastors) are all telling the stories on themselves. They are laughing at themselves as they tell the stories and they are doing so with obvious joy and delight.

That is a dramatic sign of a healthy person... to have a sense of humor and to be able to laugh at yourself.

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