Proclaiming the Word
Stirring the Saints
“Stirring the Saints”
“Declaring the wonders of God” (Acts 2:11) on Pentecost Sunday is one of the preacher’s greatest tasks and privileges. Just as the Pentecost event propelled Peter to proclaim Christ, we preachers understand the central role of preaching as it relates to Pentecost.
The book of Acts tells the story of what happened when the Holy Spirit got hold of a people. There was a marked difference between the first Christ-followers pre-Pentecost and post-Pentecost. For Luke, everything that happened after Acts 2 pointed back to Acts 2 as its catalyst. Through the Pentecost event, the Holy Spirit generated the life and work of the church moving forward.
The work of the preacher on Pentecost Sunday is to name the work of the Spirit, then and now. That work of the Spirit is the stirring of the saints. It is not an internal, feel-good stirring, but a stirring up and out of the gathering place. The coming of the Spirit was anything but a private affair: A sound like the blowing of a violent wind. Fire falling and loud talking. Buzzing confusion and public debate. Somewhere between verses 4 and 5, the believers gathered in one place became the church scattered in the streets. Pentecost means God is going public.
Prior to the Pentecost event, Jesus prepared his followers: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” (Acts 1:8). Just as breath powers a body, the Spirit entered and powered the church. Once the body was given life by the Spirit, it did what breath-filled bodies do. It moved. It was stirred, up and out, into Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. The saints of God were propelled into the cracks and crevices of their world. Empowered, their work was to witness; to declare – with words and deeds - what they had seen and heard and known of this God.
This coming of the Spirit was not a serene, gentle happening. The Spirit came with clang and clatter. The Spirit was disruptive. He was not content with the people of God contained and idle. While one of the appropriate names for God, the Holy Spirit, is Comforter, there is a sense in which He also functions as a Discomforter, thrusting the people of God, quite literally, out of their zone of comfort for the sake of continuing the work of Jesus.
Just like then, the default position for believers today is to remain contained and idle. While the first followers were under orders from Jesus to stay put, the church today is not. The Spirit has come. And He has come to disrupt the status quo. He has come to stir the saints up and out.
On Pentecost Sunday, the preacher is aware that the Spirit is hovering over the saints of God, aching to stir them up and out. Pentecost preaching, therefore, is about naming the stirring. It is a commission. A summons to be thrust out, by the power of the Holy Spirit, from the gathering place. To be moved into the cracks and crevices of our world. To witness to what we have seen and heard and known of this God of ours.
When the church today is at its best, we embrace the broken and share the gospel story with the lost. We feed the hungry. We give drink to the thirsty. We welcome strangers and clothe the naked. We look after the sick and we visit those in prison. And each of these happenings points back to Pentecost as its catalyst.
To preach Pentecost is to declare the wonder that God is still going public. And to declare the even greater wonder that he insists on not going alone.
-Daron Brown serves as the Senior Pastor at Waverly Church of the Nazarene in Waverly, TN.