Of Dreams and Visions
by Frank Schaefer
based on Acts 2: 1-21
(Walk down to the floor between the pews as you speak, praising
God excitedly in different languages: "Toda gloria sea al nombre del
Senor!" "Praise God Almighty for the gift of the Spirit!" "Preis
den Herrn!" "Hallelujah!" etc. Then proceed to preach as Peter
preached to the people at Jerusalem):
Fellow people, all of you who are gathered in this service,
listen carefully and get this story straight. I am nor drunk as some of you
suspect. Nor is our worship leader here. We havent had time to get drunk--its
only nine oclock in the morning. What you are witnessing is what the prophet
Joel announced would happen:
Your sons will prophesy, also your daughters;
Your young men will see visions, your old men dream dreams.
When the time comes, I'll pour out my Spirit
On those who serve me, men and women both, and they'll
Ill set wonders in the sky above and signs on the earth
Blood and fire and billowing smoke, the sun turning black
and the moon blood-red,
Before the Day of the Lord arrives, the Day tremendous and
marvelous; And whoever calls out for help to God, will be saved!"'
Fellow people, listen carefully to these words: Jesus the
Nazarene, following the deliberate and well thought-out plan of God, was
betrayed by men who took the law into their own hands, and was handed over to
you. And you pinned him to a cross and killed him. But God untied the death
ropes and raised him up. Death was no match for him.
. . . Jesus is the Messiah, whom God raised up from the dead.
Every one of us here is a witness to it. Then, raised to the heights at the
right hand of God and receiving the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father,
he poured out the Spirit he had just received. That is what you see and hear
All Israel, then, know this: There's no longer room for
doubt--God made him Master and Messiah, this Jesus whom you killed on a
Change your life! Turn to God, each of you, in the name of Jesus
Christ, so your sins are forgiven. And then receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The promise is for you and your children, but also to all who are far
away--whomever our God invites.
This is in essence the message that Peter preached on the day of
Pentecost, as found in the book of Acts chapter 2.
Some theologians say that the events surrounding Pentecost
really began a few thousand years before: at the building of the tower at Babel.
Remember the story of how all peoples of the world came together to make a
monument to themselves, to build a tower that would touch the heavens. And God
swooped down to confuse everybodys languages--the beginning of multiple
languages, according to Genesis.
At Pentecost, of course, God reversed what happened at Babel:
miraculously people understood the words that came out of the mouths of Peter
and the disciples each in their own native language.
Consider for a moment two similar and yet so different
congregations--the one gathering at Babel and the young church at Jerusalem.
Both congregations had gathered in harmony with a common
purpose. Both of these congregations had lofty goals. Yet the gathering at Babel
turned out to be a failure, while the one at Jerusalem turned the then-known
world upside down.
Both congregations were reaching for the heavens. The people at
Babel wanted to do so in order to make a monument for themselves. But the people
gathered in the upper room at Jerusalem stretched out their hands to heaven in
prayer. The first group of people were relying on their own power, the second
group of people were waiting for power from on high--Gods power. The first
group ended up with tremendous communications barriers, the second group found
that through the power of God, language barriers break down.
In a sense these two stories tell the tale of the fact that
humanity needs God to be in control. "Not by might, nor by power, but by my
Spirit," says the Lord.
The Egyptians mustered their mighty army,
but Moses stretched out his staff in faith and God gave the Hebrew slaves
The Amalekites drew their swords, but Moses lifted his arms to heaven
and Israel was saved.
Midian mobilized tens of thousands of foot soldiers, but Gideon
gathered 300 Israelites full of faith, and God gave them victory.
Goliath put on the strongest armor around in his day, but David picked
up three pebbles and fought in the name of God and won.
Not by might, nor, by power, but by my spirit says the Lord.
What about us here gathering this morning? Have we gathered today expecting
the power and glory of God to come down, or are we here because this is the
thing we always do? Or because our friends are here? Or because someone twisted
our arm to be here?
Do we realize that the prophecy of Joel is for us as much as it was for the
early church? God still pours out His Spirit upon people--the gifts of the holy
Spirit are available for all. There is so much in store for us. If we would only
start to reach out, stretch out our hands and ask for it and . . . receive it.
God wants the power of the Holy Spirit to be manifest in and through our
lives, for some of us to speak in other tongues, to prophesy, to be instruments
of divine healing, to have visions and to dream dreams. Not to build a monument
for ourselves, but for the work of God here on earth.
Not that I am where God wants me to be spiritually, but my experience has
been that whenever I have started to become serious with God, whenever I have
started to take God up on his promises, whenever I got down on my knees and
expected the power of God to show up in my life--extraordinary things happened.
God never lets anyone down who takes Him up on his promises. Keep in mind that
the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost came after the disciples had
locked themselves away in the upper room to pray, and pray, and . . . pray!!!
Let us be reminded why are we here this morning. We are here because the
Almighty God is in this place, we are here to worship the One who is in charge
over our lives and to seek his power. Let us become serious with God once again.
Let us get down on our knees as the disciples did, and let us pray for our own
Pentecost experience that will so fill us with excitement about Jesus that it
spills over into our neighborhood. Amen.