Jesus had made a promise.
On Pentecost Sunday that promise was fulfilled.
“…I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, [helper] to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.” (John 14:16-18 CEB)
As it was on that first Pentecost Sunday, it is today in the Central Texas Conference. The Lord God Almighty, through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, is alive and active in our midst. I offer the following brief anecdotes of just a few ways The Spirit is moving as a Pentecost follow-up report.
“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit… this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.” (Acts 2:4, 16-17 NRSV)
Pastor Brian Brice at Iredell/Cranfills Gap Charge wrote his DS, “Leah, I am so excited and overjoyed! I felt compelled to share with you that Iredell UMC hosted its first youth group in over a generation tonight. We had 10 young people join us for hamburgers, hotdogs, singing, prayer, and Word! We were lavished by God's grace and such a great turnout in a town of about 340 people. What's more was most don't go to our church, some even have never been to church in their lives and heard the Gospel for the first time today. Pray for us. God is making a powerful move in this community!”
Meanwhile out in the West District, Pastor Jim Sanders of Millsap UMC shares a picture (photo left) of young people who have been leading in music and worship. Jim writes: “These young people have been providing our music since we started meeting in the cutting horse arena of one of our members in June. … Attending the ‘Young People's Time’ were youngsters from ages ten to ages 22.”
Our East District Lay Leader, Jocqueline Carter writes about a ministry that she has launched, which is (in her words) “Facebook-driven.” This ministry takes place beyond the bounds of the Central Texas Conference in her hometown of Sweetwater. She calls it “West Texas Empowerment,” and writes: “I formed the platform with 3E's in mind for the community (Equip, Educate and Empower) I try to discuss different things as far as content. but we never lose focus on speaking about the goodness of God thru testimony. Most of the followers do not normally attend the typical church setting. I have found that they are eager to learn and grow as an individual, family, and community; however, when I look at the makeup of the followers ONLY 3-5% live in the actual area I created the platform for, which is shocking to me. … The platform has helped me to understand and know that we must evolve as the things and situations around us change, which I learned firsthand as I lead our congregation thru the most difficult time of our church - being faced with us losing our church as we faced what we thought was racism but I was able with God's help to be the bridge. The people are out there in the world and want what we have as believers. … Bishop, I am a servant unto God's people. My goal is if I touched one person, I was happy. Thank you for allowing me to share and I thank Dr. Randy Wild for being my biggest cheerleader.”
On the Eastern edge of the Conference, First UMC of Mexia shares news of a wonderful confirmation class (photo right). The Holy Spirit in moving in marvelous ways through this local church and the ministry of Pastor Jennifer Pick.
Don't Throw In the Cat – The Spirit is On the Move
But there is more going on than just a post-COVID boom. One of our District Superintendents commented that there were more than 100 professions of faith in her District during the Pentecost weekend. Other District Superintendents reported exciting ministry growth and transformation in some of their churches. The winds of the Holy Spirit are blowing among us! God is moving in our lives!
There is an old story about a pastor who “wanted to dramatize the coming of the Spirit on Pentecost Sunday. He arranged for the church custodian to release a pigeon at the point in the service when he said, “And the Holy Spirit descended like a dove.” The service began, and, at the proper moment, the pastor said, ‘The Holy Spirit descended like a dove,’ but no bird appeared. He repeated the words, but still nothing happened. Then the custodian cried out in a loud voice, ‘Preacher, a cat done ate that there Spirit bird! Do you want me to throw down the cat?’”
There is no need to throw down the cat or the towel! The Holy Spirit has flown the coop! The Lord God Almighty is moving in our lives and in the life of the churches of the Central Texas Conference!