A year-long series of weekly essays re-imagining the Reforming Church. This is not a scholarly effort, crafting neither an ecclesiastical nor a theological system. Rather, it is simply a futurist’s snapshot – it is how I imagine the church proceeding forward through the next decades in the tradition of the Reformation.
Indeed, the Reformation was about so much more than the priesthood of all believers. Even so, this is an important doctrine in the Reforming Church and the reason the Christian Day of Pentecost is so important to the Reforming Church.
On the Day of Pentecost, after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, his Galilean disciples were gathered in Jerusalem in one place. You can read this story in chapter 2 of the Acts of the Apostles. The story is about the Holy Spirit coming upon the disciples in a powerful way – a way in which their lives were changed – initially the Spirit giving each of them the power to speak in other languages.
Pentecost is a Jewish holy day, and there were many observant Jews from the Jewish diaspora – Asia Minor – in Jerusalem for the holy day. Upon hearing the cacophony of Jesus’ disciples speaking in languages recognizable to this diverse gathering of the observant – though with Galilean accents – some sneered that they were intoxicated.
So, this was an occasion when Jesus’ headstrong disciple, Peter, rose to the challenge and explained that Jesus’ disciples were not drunk but instead overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit Jesus had promised. He used this opportunity to tell Jesus’ story from the beginning to his death, resurrection, and ascension sourcing the Hebrew scriptures. As it turned out, many – it is said 3,000 – repented and were baptized on that day also receiving the Holy Spirit.
This was a heady time for the forming church. The new Followers of Jesus gathered to form the generous community of believers in which no one wanted for anything, as all combined their resources to live as one family. Faithfully, the new Followers of the Way of Jesus gathered for prayer and communal meals. Their lives and the lives of their families became heirs of the covenant promise of Jesus.
The Christian Day of Pentecost is important to the Reforming Church because of the symbolism of all believers pitching in for the common good. And as the Apostle Paul pointed out, the church was organized to be a bottom-up organization in which the leadership was shared widely as the Spirit gave essential gifts of service to believers (1 Corinthians 12).
And so, the Reforming Church governs itself in a way that recognizes the gifts of service the Spirit has given to each Follower of the Way, who in turn support and encourage each other in love.