This year is our FEMC Jubilee, celebrating 50 years of ministry in the valley!
I did a little research around the number 50, and there are two biblical meanings around that number that I’d like to highlight in the next couple newsletters.
The first meaning of the number 50 is connected to the Day of Pentecost, also known as the “Feast of Weeks” or “Shavuot”.
The “Feast of Weeks” happens 50 days after Passover and the “Feast of Firstfruits.”
Jesus was crucified as the “Passover Lamb”.
He rose from the grave around the Feast of Firstfruits.
So what happened on that particular Shavuot, 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection?
The promised Holy Spirit arrived! (John 14:16–17)
On the Day of Pentecost, the “firstfruits” of the church were gathered by Christ as some 3,000 people heard Peter present the gospel after the Holy Spirit had empowered and indwelt the disciples.
One of the main historical observances around Shavuot was to memorialize the giving of God’s Law on stone tablets to Moses at Mount Sinai .
At this Shavuot/Pentecost, God keeps a promise He made about the “Law” no longer being written on stones, but it will be written in our hearts. (Hebrews 8:10)
Think of all the differences between Pentecost and Sinai.
At Sinai, there is fear, smoke and separation on a remote mountaintop.
At Pentecost, the believers are united in one place, with the presence of God right there with them.
At Pentecost, God is no longer distant – he has moved from lofty mountains to someone’s living room.
At Sinai there is fire of judgement and terror.
At Pentecost there is fire of anointing, passion and love.
At Sinai, Moses had to hide his face, and had to wear a veil after even taking a glimpse of God.
At Pentecost, no more veil, no more separation.
The law is no longer on cold stone tablets, now the Law-Giver Himself will inhabit the people’s hearts.
2Co 3:16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
2Co 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2Co 3:18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
So what does this mean for us, at the “Pentecost” 50 year celebration of our church?
We must remember that the legacy, the DNA of our church, was one of a church, from leaders to laity, anointed and compelled by the Holy Spirit to pursue God.
We must remember that the reason our church exists is in part to the obedience of Spirit filled and Spirit led believers who had a deep desire to create a community around holiness and rightly dividing the Word of God.
We must remember how the Holy Spirit compelled Pastor Bill Smith to go to Killaloe and preach the Gospel and show Christ’s love to the hippies in that community; many of whom have grown into a multi-generational legacy of Christ followers and ministers in the “Diaspora” of First Missionary Church.
We must remember that people who have been a part of our church, who are a part of our church, and will be part of our church, exist because of the continued drawing, illuminating and convicting work of the Holy Spirit through His people.
We must continue to seek God, walk with His Spirit, and celebrate our Saviour before this world so spiritual “veils” may be lifted from their eyes and they might come to believe in the One who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
We are ministers and messengers of the reality that God is not distant and waiting to blast people, but that he is ready to come close by to redeem, reconcile and restore people by His Spirit.
I pray that into the next 50 years, while our methods change, our passion and message will never change.
We preach Christ risen and the Spirit present, just like Peter preached at Shavuot/Pentecost over 2000 years ago:
Ac 2:32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.
Ac 2:33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear…
Ac 2:36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
Ac 2:37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Ac 2:38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
I also pray that a deeper, more powerful reality of the presence of God would happen this year.
As one of the pillars of our FEMC vision, being filled and led by the Holy Spirit is crucial to our future as a body of believers.
With the Holy Spirit, we have power to be witnesses. (Acts 1:8)
With the Holy Spirit, we will we have understanding and know what words to say. (Luke 12:11-12)
With the Holy Spirit, signs and wonders follow our message and ministry. (1 Cor 2:1-5)
With the Holy Spirit, we can illuminate and glorify Christ in our community in natural and supernatural ways. (1 Cor. 12, 13)
So please pray with me, as we draw closer to our 50th anniversary, and pursue God’s calling deeper into our vision, that Pentecost, Shavuot, will happen in our hearts, our church and our community.