Mobile, AL (WKRG)
Many churches will be observing Pentecost this morning. Rev. Thomas Irby, an Associate Pastor at Ashland Place United Methodist Church joins us. Here’s a look at our conversation:
Chad: Many churches are observing Pentecost this morning. What is that?
Rev. Irby: Originally Pentecost was an ancient Jewish feast day that celebrated the first fruits of the harvest. On the day of Pentecost the Jewish people commemorate Moses receiving the 10 Commandments. For Christians, Pentecost is when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the early disciples, which gave birth to the church.
Chad: This is where we’re introduced to the Holy Spirit. How does the spirit fit in the trinity?
Rev. Irby: The Holy Spirit is considered the third person of the Holy Trinity. The Father eternally begets the Son, and the Father eternally spirates, or breathes out, the Spirit. The three persons of the Trinity exist in a perfect eternal communion with one another.
Chad: The Holy Spirit is sometimes an abstract concept. How do you describe it?
Rev. Irby: The Holy Spirit is God, so when Christians say that the Holy Spirit is present, we are saying that God is present. Through the Spirit God empowers us to preach the good news, care for the poor, and bring healing to the world. Through the Spirit, Christ enables the church to be the body of Christ for the world.
Chad: What’s the most important lesson of Pentecost?
Rev. Irby: The Book of Acts says that those who received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost were able to understand one another. Despite the fact that they came from different places with different cultures and different languages, they were able to understand one another.
We live in a world where people don’t understand one another. Daily we see conflict and violence centered around race, nationality, and politics. And we have these conflicts because each person has a different story that influences how they see the world, and how you think the world ought to be. Everyone has a different story that gives them different values.
And when my story is different from your story, there is often tension and conflict. We have different stories. We have different values. But the miracle of Pentecost is that we can learn to truly listen to each other speak, and learn to love people who are different than us.
Chad: How did Pentecost affect the early church’s development?
Rev. Irby: One of the most important things that Pentecost did for the early church was build a religious movement that transcended language, class, and culture. In the earliest generations of the church Jews, Greeks, Romans and Samaritans heard the Gospel of Christ and started churches. That same Spirit that taught the church to understand different stories empowered the church to lay its foundations.
Chad: What should people learn this Sunday?
Rev. Irby: This Sunday I hope that people learn that the Holy Spirit is drawing us into relationships with people who are different than us. And I hope that the same Spirit will lead us to gracefully listen the stories of those we don’t understand, so that we may see the image of God in every single person.