No more Unbelonging! Marked As Christ’s Own!

WHEN THE day of Pentecost came, Jesus' Believers were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and filled the whole house-where-they-were. (Not a corner left out!) Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks. They were all… filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, prompted by the Spirit. Right then, Jerusalem was full of devout Jews, pilgrims from every nation. At the sound of this Pentecost, they all came on the run. Many were bewildered. See, each one heard the Jesus' Believers speaking in his own language. They were blown away! "Aren't these just lowly Galileans? How can they be speaking our language? Why, we're from all over, and from plain to powerful. And yet… we hear these Jesus' Believers telling us the mighty works of God in our own words." Amazing! "What's this all about?" Others just blew it off. "Pssh! They're just fired up on cheap wine!"

But Peter, [Of all people, PETER, mind you] standing with the eleven who'd followed Jesus from the start, lifted up his voice. "Fellow Jews and visitors in town alike, listen carefully. Get this straight. It's only 9 o'clock in the morning. Even we Galileans can't get drunk this early! O we know, that's how little you think of us! Look. This is what the prophet Joel told us was coming. Now, here it is! 'In the last days, God declares, I will pour out my Spirit on people of every kind, and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young see visions, and your old dream dreams. And get this: I will pour out my Spirit on all those who serve me, men and women both; and they shall prophesy…I'll show wonders in the sky, signs on the earth: blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun turned to darkness, the moon into blood, before the Lord's great day comes. And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." …Peter boldly declared, "Fellow Israelites, Listen! Jesus of Nazareth, God himself certified to you with mighty works and wonders in your midst. You know it's so. This Jesus God had in mind from the start and delivered to you, your lawless men had pinned to the cross. But God untied the death ropes and raised him up. Death was no match for him."

When they heard all this, they were cut to the heart. They said to Peter and the apostles, "What shall we do?" And Peter said, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins… and you too shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

                                        (Acts 2: 1-21, 37-38, a contemporary rendering)

Many were. Many did! What a story! Theirs! Ours! …Is it yours? Some have said yes today. What do you say? I say, make this your own, and…

You will know no more unbelonging. And you will be

marked as Christ's own forever!

No day or teaching better reveals it. God Godself is an utterly determined evangelist of the first order. In the name of Jesus, God's determined to leave nothing and no one out! His hot breath, his vibrant, his flaming… passion for souls, will flash/howl like a whirlwind. And all to be the Divine Gatherer of every one of us! God: the Spirit calling us, as Peter said, to "Repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins." Then, "You too shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

Get this. Today's the day God wants to gather you in! Are you ready? Are you able? Are you willin'? Will you just say YES, I BELONG TO GOD? IN JESUS CHRIST? 'CAUGHT UP BY THE SPIRIT? 'GATHERED IN, AND NEVER TO BE COUNTED OUT AGAIN?  I mean, haven't you had enough of UNbelonging? Right there, on that first Pentecost day, the already-believers were gathered first. And themselves, sorta set ablaze by the fiery, feisty Spirit of God, their tongues untied, their hearts pried open, their imaginations set aflame. And all so they could speak the name of Jesus so mightily …there'd be yet another gathering. This time everyone in town is taken in. They come on the run, literally from all over the known-world. That's what the Good News says! Now believers can connect with everybody… So there's no more UNbelonging to Jesus! EVERYbody is invited to him!

Haven't you had enough of UNbelonging? I mean the messages and messengers of UNbelonging are everywhere for everybody. Take the young we confirm today. Isn't this what you/they hear? You don't belong. You're not pretty enough. You're not smart enough. 'Not cool enough. Maybe, you don't go along with the crowd enough. You're too flat or too fat. Too tall or too short. Too scheduled or too not "in-the-gang." 'Know what Jesus says to all of this? "Come unto me." "I am yours and you are mine." "I have called you my friends." "I'll send the Spirit for ya'. It'll pick you up. If you wanna help a little, just lift your feet a little when it comes blowin' through… and it will blow you away…and leave me always standin' right there beside YOU!"

Haven't you had enough of UNbelonging? Its messages and messengers are everywhere for everybody. Take the adults and families we welcome today. Isn't this what you/they hear? 'We all hear? You don't belong. "Not pretty enough. 'Not smart enough. 'Not cool enough. 'Too old, too young, too qualified, too little educated for the position. 'Too broke for the loan, or too monied. 'Too sick for the insurance or too well for the treatment… try the generic brand. You don't go along with the crowd enough to be in the club or get the promotion. You're not the person I married. Or, you haven't changed a bit!" Whew. Are you tired of it all yet? Here's what Jesus says, "Come unto me all you who are weary and weighed down, and I will give you rest." "I am yours and you are mine." "YOU are my friends." "I'll send the Spirit for ya'. It'll pick you up. If you wanna help a little, just lift your feet a little when it comes blowin' through… and it will blow you away…and leave me always standin' right there beside YOU! Just set down all that stuff and all those folks, and all that doin' and undoin' that keeps you apart from me… all that sin-filled stuff…. 'Cause I just want to lift you up, and be with you and you with me!"

I just keep hearin' Peter's words ringin' in my soul today! "Repent, turn around… and be baptized… or remember your baptism… in the name of Jesus Christ… for the forgiveness of your sins." Then, "You too shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Not tomorrow, next week, month, year or decade, but today! I just keep seein' the faces of the young and the old we've baptized in this wonder-filled place. I get to hold them in my hands. And I get to look them in the eyes, from sleepy babies to brides-and-grooms-at-their-weddings, to old souls in their maturity. And I get to say, "You are hereby sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism and marked as Christ's own forever!" He will never let go. (We need only hold fast.)

What a story!  Some of us have come forward for the very first or yet a new time today to say, "This is my story. And I've been bathed in it! 'Blown away and blown home to Christ by the Holy Spirit of God! Wouldn't it be something if the waters were cast in our direction today [doing so] and you were spirit-touched to

Remember your baptism and be thankful!

No more unbelonging. You are marked as Christ's own forever!

By the Spirit, gathered. …To gather all the world to Christ.

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