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Posted on 20 May 2018

May 20, 2018, Pentecost

Acts 2:1-15, 22-24, 36-39

Philippians 4:4-7

Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman


There are days in our lives when we are more reflective, when we think about the past and set intentions for the future. The beginning of a new school or calendar year. The anniversary of a life-changing moment, a graduation, or the loss of a loved one. And of course, birthdays. Birthdays are a natural day to reflect on the past and set intentions for the future.

Today is our birthday. Not you and me. Not the First Congregational Church. Not even the United Church of Christ. Today is the birthday of the entire Church of Jesus Christ. Today is the day when Roman Catholics and Baptists, Lutherans and Presbyterians, Anglicans, Episcopalians, Methodists, and Orthodox all celebrate the Church’s birthday.

Ok, maybe not this exact day for the Orthodox churches because they use a different church calendar; you get the idea though. We all trace our roots back to this Bible passage, to this event, to this Pentecost day when the disciples were blessed with the Holy Spirit and shared that blessing. And a dozen or so believers became 3,000 strong! On that Pentecost day, we became The Church!

On this, our birthday, I want to walk you back a few years – to the time before the Church had buildings, to before the Church had organizational structures, to before the church had rituals or even a creed, a statement of belief. Back to the first Pentecost when the church had two things: believers and the Holy Spirit.

There were no bishops or conference ministers. No choirs or hymnals. No pastors, deacons, or committee members. No endowments, pledge drives, or offering envelopes. No church seasons like Advent and Lent. No church season colors like red for Pentecost.

The church only had believers and the Holy Spirit. And look what happened! Three thousand people heard the good news of God’s unconditional love made known through Jesus Christ and were baptized, changed their lives so they could know God’s love and share God’s love.


So simple and yet sometimes, we can make it so complicated.


What is our purpose as Christians?

To follow Jesus and share his love with all.

What is our purpose as the church?

To follow Jesus and share his love with all.


Simple, and yet we can make it so complicated sometimes. We confuse what is nice, what we are used to, what is traditional, with what is essential.

What is essential to our lives as Christians? What is essential to living out our calling, our purpose, as the Church?

I would like to invite you to turn in your seat, get up from your seat even, and find two other people, hopefully not those you already know very well, and to share the answer to three questions:


  1. What is your name? Thank you to everyone wearing nametags.
  2. What is your favorite birthday treat?
  3. What is essential for you about Christianity and the Church?

What is essential for you about Christianity and the Church?

I truly believe that God is calling us, the First Congregational Church, us the United Church of Christ, to a new thing, to go back to the essentials, so we can go forth to share the good news of God’s love with all.

Today, someone is waiting to hear the good news that God loves them, that God’s peace is stronger than any fear, that they have unique abilities that can transform the world for the better. Today, someone is waiting for the best gift ever- God’s love to be shared through you.