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Uncommon Forces

Posted on 15 Oct 2023

October 15, 2023

Acts 4:1-20

Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman


With all of the tragic and terrible stuff going on in our world these days, it’s no wonder people are into superheroes.  It’s no wonder that we don’t secretly hope for a man of steel, a caped crusader, an Avenger to come and save us, to come and make everything in the world all right.

Unfortunately, the sad and terrifying news of this past week, of this past year, of this past decade has been the way of the world going back thousands of years.  Unfortunately, throughout time, God’s people have been oppressed, enslaved, and harmed by violence, fighting, and war.

Going back thousands of years, God’s people have hoped for a messiah, for a super hero to come and make everything in the world all right.  Throughout time, God’s people have waited for the day when swords are transformed into tools for farming and hoped for light to shine in the darkness.  And the finally, as it is sometimes said in church services, “in the fullness of time” God sent a savior, a Messiah, God’s anointed one, the Christ to save God’s people.

Peter and John and the rest of Jesus’ disciples thought that that was the end of the story.  Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ, the Messiah, their savior, and he would cast out the occupying Roman Empire.  He would clear out the Temple and those in religious authority who were more focused on power than on God.  Jesus, the Savior, would draw all of the people’s hearts back to God and there would be no more evil, no more violence, no more war in the world, only peace and love.

After years of waiting, after years of hoping, this was what the disciples believed – that Jesus, their long awaited Savior, would make everything in the world all right, forever and ever, amen.

So they were incredibly shocked when Jesus was killed by those occupying Romans, colluded against by those in religious authority, and scorned by the very people who were supposed to be turning their hearts back to God.

Then the disciples were amazed when Jesus was resurrected from the dead, and then in another twist, they were utterly confused that Jesus was going to leave them again.  And he wasn’t leaving them a bat signal to be able to call him any time they were in need.  Instead, he was going to bless them with the Holy Spirit.

Holy Spirit?  What was that?  What good was it?  Would it come in an invisible plane with a lasso of truth like Wonder Woman?  Like the Black Panther, would it have vibranium to protect the people?  Would it have the seventh sense and be able to predict the future like Captain Marvel?  The disciples likely wondered how the Holy Spirit would save them from evil, oppression, hardship, and war.

And then on Pentecost, the disciples discovered what Max Lucado calls “the promise of Pentecost”.  The disciples discovered what the Holy Spirit does.  “The Spirit turns common folk into uncommon forces.” (Help is Here: Finding Fresh Strength and Purpose in the Power of the Holy Spirit, Max Lucado, pg 123)

“The Spirit turns common folk into uncommon forces.”  The Holy Spirit, God’s Holy Spirit, enables ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

Ordinary people like Peter and John.  Our scripture passage calls them ordinary, uneducated men.  It’s true.  They had spent their lives fishing, not studying the torah and law.  And yet, these ordinary men were able to do extraordinary things.  They healed people – body and heart.  With their words, they helped people turn their hearts to God, helped people connect with God, helped people find peace and hope in their lives.

The Holy Spirit gave Peter and John courage.  The Holy Spirit gave them boldness, and they discovered that with Jesus’ spirit working through them, they were the heroes.  Ordinary, common place them, they were the ones who act by act, person by person, would make everything in the world all right.

It’s the promise of Pentecost.  “The Spirit turns common folk into uncommon forces.” (Help is Here: Finding Fresh Strength and Purpose in the Power of the Holy Spirit, Max Lucado, pg 123)  God empowers ordinary people, ordinary people like us, to do extraordinary things.

Ordinary gifts, like a donation made to Family Promise for the walk a thon yesterday, enable children to know a little more security and a lot more comfort by being able to stay in the home they know.

Ordinary prayers offered up for those we know and those we don’t, ordinary prayers are powerful, bringing about wholeness and healing.

Ordinary acts of service, like a sunshine ministry card sent, a box of pasta given, a pause in your day to listen, to encourage, to affirm.

Ordinary gifts, ordinary prayers, ordinary acts of service have extraordinary power to make everything right – maybe not in the entire world – still, everything right in one person’s life which can spread to one family and then to one community, and if enough ordinary people know that God is working through them, making the impossible possible, if enough people trust and have hope, than one day together as God’s people, we will make everything in the world all right, forever and ever, amen.

In these days of trouble and turbulence, trust that God is with us.  Trust in God’s power and love.  Trust that God makes all things possible.  Trust that God turns common folk into uncommon forces, uncommon forces of hope, uncommon forces of love, uncommon forces of goodness, uncommon forces of peace.


As a reminder that God empowers ordinary people to do extraordinary things, I invite you to join me in singing hymn 677 “Let There be Peace on Earth”.