In 1977 teenagers all over America walked into movie theatres to watch a movie that was virtually unknown. The director was unknown, the characters were unknown, the soundtrack was unknown, the robots were unknown. The name of the movie was Star Wars. It was not expected to be the biggest grossing movie of all times.
It’s hard to believe that was 28 years ago. But even then some of us could read the handwriting on the wall. It was more grand than anything else we’d had ever see. For the next two months in that year of ’77, the word spread and we couldn’t get enough.
From the very beginning of the movie it had a mysterious lure to it. Some of you may remember that as the story begins these huge words scroll up the screen. The first piece of information you are confronted with is that the STAR WARS story you about to see is Episode 4. George Lucas, the creator, said that it is far more interesting to start a story in the middle than at the beginning.
So now, some 28 years later we are watching the beginning of the story: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. I had to wonder if George Lucas purposely planned the premiere of Episode I and II around the church calendar. Five years ago Episode I was released on Pentecost weekend. Episode II was released on Pentecost weekend. For some reason III is next week. He missed it by a week. Lucas is perhaps not even aware of this, it takes a preacher to recognize things like that but I think he is trying to use the themes of this season to underscore the meaning of his movies. This is the time of year that we celebrate new beginnings, how the church began. Pentecost is the story of the Holy Spirit breathing a movement into the life of the disciples. Pentecost is in effect the church’s Prequel , how it all began.
Here’s what happened in the church’s Prequel: The disciples had gathered in Jerusalem. Jesus had instructed them not to leave Jerusalem…to wait for the gift that the Father had promised. So the disciples waited. It was now 50 days since Passover and it was the custom of the Jews to celebrate two things at this time: the first fruits of the Harvest and the giving of the Law. They called it the Harvest of Weeks. So the disciples find them selves surrounded by travelers from all over the world. The Jews had come back home to participate in this agricultural and religious Festival. Some had come form Europe, some from Asia, and some from Africa. Many different nationalities and languages could be seen in the market places. And then it happened.
The Gift that the Father had promised came. Like a mighty rushing wind and flames of fire the disciples were filled with and engulfed by the Holy Spirit. They began to speak to everyone about what Jesus had done. Peter stood up amidst throngs of people in the street and said, "Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs but you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to a cross. But God raised him from the dead, and we all are witnesses of this fact. Exalted to the right hand of God he has poured out Holy Spirit upon us. Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."
Luke, the writer of the book of Acts, tells us how the people responded to Peter’s message. "When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brother’s what shall we do?"
Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
They did repent and Luke tells us that 3000 were added to the church on that day. Now that’s the church’s Episode II. It is the story of the coming of the Holy Spirit. Today, we cannot duplicate the exact events of Acts. That was a one time event in the life of the church. We may not be able to duplicate the exact event but we can duplicate that same power today.
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