Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2018
Texts: Acts 2:1-4; John 14:16; Acts 2:5-13, Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:22-39; Psalms 110:1-3. July 14, 2018
Folk singer David Roth strummed his guitar among a circle of about 30 people in the McDaniel College lounge in Westminster, Maryland. He sang about a teacher who inspired him to love music: “Thank you for the music, Mr. Ryan, a simple gift you gave that day; you’ll never know how much it has meant to me.” The group swayed gently to the music, including “Common Ground on the Hill” founder Walt Michael. Roth is one of five speakers at this month’s Common Ground on the Hill’s flagship class, “The Search for Common Ground.” Roth’s session focused on singing together for social justice.
“This is the class we hope will create ripples throughout our community, where we have conversations we need in order to have a healthy society,” Walt Michael said in his class introduction. “We are in an age now where people don’t talk across lines,” he said. “We seek to stop division, we seek to listen to each other and become inspired by people. We live in such a divided society,” Michael said, “and people understand a lot of those divisions are not real, and they’re unnecessary. There’s a lot of misunderstanding going on and people feel manipulated,” he said. “Perhaps having those conversations that they’re told are difficult is what we need. They’re really not that hard. People want to talk and to listen.”
Other speakers include a sociology professor on African-American culture, members of Mad River Theater Works who discuss their performance of “Freedom Riders,” a reverend who delivers humanitarian aid at the Arizona-Mexico border, and a Middle Eastern studies professor who brought her family to the United States to escape the violence in Palestine. Other topics include gun violence, race relations, and immigration.1
Clearing up misunderstandings between people seems such a herculean task in our divided society. Clearing up misunderstandings about God was just as challenging in the days following Christ’s ascension. This week’s lesson looks at the day things became clear—Pentecost. Human language is so inadequate when it comes to communicating the beauty of God’s character, that it takes a member of the holy trinity to reveal God to us: The Holy Spirit. At Pentecost, everyone present heard the gospel message clearly, in his or her own language without any mistranslation issues.
This Spirit-induced clarity allowed Peter to speak plainly: “God sent Jesus to do miracles among you, but you and other wicked men put him to death on the cross.” Instead of being put off by such a strong accusation, the Spirit’s influence opened the hearts of these people; they were cut to the heart and asked what they needed to do to be saved. With the baptism of 3,000 new converts, Pentecost was the ultimate church-plant launch. God’s new church went from there with Holy Spirit power to the entire world to all people with the clear, simple gospel message.
~ For Reflection
Connecting: Have group members assemble in a long line and then fold the line by bringing the last person up to meet the first person. Ask the pairs all through the line to answer this question: At Pentecost, what Bible character would you have liked to have been and why?
Sharing: Read Acts 2:5-13. What was so amazing about the fact that these people were speaking different languages?
1. They were drunk, and people in that condition are usually not coherent.
2. There was nothing unusual because these people had traveled all over the world and could easily have learned the languages.
3. While they were waiting in Jerusalem, they had quickly learned other languages from those visiting the city.
4. These were educated people who learned the languages in school.
5. Even though they were from Galilee, they were speaking languages from all over the world. 6. Other...
Applying: Think for a moment: If the Holy Spirit came upon your church or group as it did at Pentecost, what might happen in the surrounding community? For example, if you would like to see change, you might schedule a prayer walk where your group walks the neighboring streets and prays for those who live there.
Valuing: Prayerfully read Hymn #266, “Spirit of God.” On a card, write a phrase from the song that speaks to your heart. Then write Acts 2:28 on the other side of the card: “You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence” (NLT). Look back at the card throughout the week as you thank God for being present in your life.