FAITH TAKES – Pentecost 2024 Edition

Greetings in Christ, all!  This weekend brings to us one of the longest-celebrated festivals in the Judeo-Christian tradition – the Greek name is “Pentecost”.  Originally, it was the first of two “harvest festivals”, held 50 days after the “Festival of Firstfruits”, which was the celebration of the beginning of the barley harvest.  Pentecost then was the celebration of the beginning of the (winter) wheat harvest.

And this celebration was a pilgrim festival, which meant that according to Jewish Law, all the adult Jewish men would come from wherever they were living to Jerusalem and personally be in attendance during this celebration.  On Pentecost, the High Priest was to take two loaves of freshly baked wheat bread and offer them before the Lord. The wheat bread was made from newly harvested wheat.

In short, Pentecost in the time of the Apostles was a grand harvest celebration. The streets of Jerusalem were clogged with thousands of pilgrims who had come from every point in the Roman world to celebrate the goodness of God and the bringing in of the wheat harvest.

But the Lord had even grander plans in terms of a harvest than this.  You might recall the miraculous catch of fish in Luke, chapter 5 when a shamed Peter, seeing the multitude of fish that was getting ready to sink two boats, said to Jesus, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 

And Jesus said to him in reply, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”


And He meant it.  Sometime on the same evening as the Last Supper, Jesus shared these words (from John, chapter 15:  “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness about Me.   And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning”  [E.S.V.]  He gave a further hint in some of His last words spoken to the disciples in Luke, chapter 24:  “Behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you.  But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”  [E.S.V.]

Pentecost was that day – that moment where the Spirit came, and He empowered the early believers, specifically the apostles and Peter.  And notice how thorough the Spirit was – the day started with the sound of a rushing, mighty wind, and then became the sound of everyone hearing the Apostles telling these people the mighty works of God, each in their own language – more languages than there were apostles,  Then that same Peter – yes him – the walking gaffe machine – tells the people what the goodness of God is really all about, being fulfilled from Old Testament times in the person of Jesus Christ.
And so Pentecost becomes this moment in history when from this little sect of believers who followed a Jewish rabbi from Nazareth who died and rose again suddenly becomes Christ’s church.  Suddenly it is that unstoppable force that no one can deny any longer – the living reality of the moment that the Spirit of God burst forth – and that day 3,000 souls were added. 
How much we yearn today for another Pentecost miracle – and yet, in many ways, we still have one.  Even if the evidence isn’t clear in churches in North America or Europe, it is plainly evident in other areas of the world – people are starving for the Gospel, and are devouring it when they finally hear it.  And we still connect to this miracle each time we are engaged in the Word and in the Sacraments.
And so, as we celebrate with the color of the power of the Holy Spirit this weekend (red), please note the following:

  • OUR OWN RETIRED PASTOR, the Rev. Robert Steinke, was awarded the “Lloyd Behnken Retreat Medallion” by the Florida-Georgia District for his work on many fronts, including the Florida chapter of “Adult Lutherans Organized for Action” (ALOA), but most of all for his leadership and planning for “Veterans of the Cross” an annual retreat for retired pastors held during the Lenten season.  Pastor Steinke is currently serving as intentional interim pastor at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Zephyrhills.  They are holding the first of a series of “call information” meetings this coming weekend.  We congratulate Pastor and Freda and thank them for all they have done;
  • AND WHILE PART OF THIS IS ON A PERSONAL LEVEL, you may recall that Pastor Wenndt’s nephew, candidate David Wenndt, preached and assisted in worship a couple of years ago, around Ash Wednesday, as pastor was just being released from the hospital.  Wenndt has now received his first divine call to a congregation in western Iowa.  His service of ordination and installation is Father’s Day weekend.  Pastor Wenndt will be attending as a member of the family.  That weekend, worship will be a Psalm-based service led by the elders.  It will change our worship schedule a bit – see below;
  • AS A RESULT, note the revised worship schedule for the month of June.  +The first two weekends will remain unchanged, with communion on Sunday the 2nd and Saturday the 8th.  The 1st of June will return to worship our Summer devotional “Compline” services on non-communion Saturdays.  +The weekend of the 14th and 15th will not have communion at either service, once again as we have an elder-led service.  +We will then have services of Holy Communion on Sunday the 23rd and Saturday the 29th, with our other “Compline” for the month on Saturday the 22nd.  +The services on the 29th and 30th will be services for the National Holiday.  We will resume the “normal” schedule in the month of July;
  • OUR BIBLE STUDIES are about to move into a Summer mode as well.  That means the Tuesday night Ladies Bible Study at the Oasis Coffee Shop is going on hiatus until after Labor Day.  As for the Sunday Bible Study, we will complete the month on the current study focused on the places of the ministry of Jesus.  But then during the Summer, we are going to focus on “LIFE” issues, including a number that are huge cultural issues at this time.  Topics to be covered include: **Today’s abortion debate from a Biblical perspective;  **Where should the Christian stand on supposed “trans-gender” issues;  **How to communicate LIFE issues with those who disagree with us; and more.  That study continues each Sunday at 9 AM in the former music room;
  • REGARDING THAT FINAL life issue listed above, we have a small hand-out that has been prepared which you can pick up a copy at worship any of the next several weekends.  They are on the “bulletins table”;
  • AND BECAUSE OF SOME SCHEDULING ISSUES, the JUNE CALENDAR is already prepared and ready to go.  Sadly, I was not given an electronic copy that I can attach to this email.  But copies are also at church on the bulletin table.  I will ascertain to send one electronically once we get to the beginning of that month;
  • EARLIER IN THIS EMAIL, I talked about the exciting Pentecost miracles that are indeed taking place around the world.  One of the places where that is becoming quite evident is the nation of Eritrea.  Our nation’s primary Eritrean LCMS pastor also serves as pastor at my father’s church in Tucker, Georgia, the Rev. Hiruy Gebremichael Bereket, who preached here once for one of our anniversary celebrations.  He will be spending a month in Eritrea conducting necessary ministry duties to the Christians there and around the world.  I share this with you because St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Tucker, Georgia will be using that same Psalm-based service one Sunday in his absence that we will be using here on Father’s Day weekend.  We pray for the continued success of the Gospel in that nation and throughout the world.

THAT SHOULD SUFFICE FOR NOW.  A member addendum for our own people will also be on the way soon.  In the meantime, I close with these special words which are part of a mission hymn written by Martin Leckebusch:

Those whom Jesus called apostles
Journeyed with Him side by side,
Heard His teaching, felt His power,
Saw the way He lived and died;
Then the news of resurrection
They delivered far and wide.

Through the intervening ages
Round the world the Gospel spread:
Faithful heralds took the message,
Guided where the Spirit led;
So the body grew in stature,
Serving Christ, the living head.

Now in many tongues and cultures
Songs of celebration ring;
Millions who confess our Savior
Honor Him as Lord and King
And, for courage, grace and guidance
Ev’ry day their prayers they bring.

To each coming generation
Tell the truth, persuade, explain,
Till the time when time is ended,
Till the Savior comes again—
Till the saints are all united
Under Christ’s eternal reign!

[Text: © 2000 Kevin Mayhew Ltd. Used by permission: LSB Hymn License no. 110000878.]
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you!

Rev.  Thomas  WenndtPastor –  Faith  Lutheran  ChurchNew  Port  Richey,   FL

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