“Amazed and Perplexed” Acts 2:1-21
Rev. Sean Weston
Lyonsville Congregational UCC, Indian Head Park IL
June 9, 2019
The story of Pentecost we heard today in Acts is set in Jerusalem about 2,000 years ago, shortly after Jesus’ death and resurrection. During Jesus’ day, Jerusalem was the center of Jewish religious practice. The magnificent temple was the pride of Jewish people throughout the world. On festivals like Pentecost, celebrating the spring barley harvest and the giving of the law to Moses, people would travel from near and far to celebrate in Jerusalem, a place beloved by centuries and centuries of Jewish people. It was a deeply special place.
Below the surface of religious joy and worship, however, was layer upon layer of suffering. For thousands and thousands of years Jerusalem has been the site of serious and often violent conflict. Centuries before today’s story took place, the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and razed the temple to the ground, carrying leaders into exile and leaving everyone else behind. Along with the nation of Israel, Jerusalem has been ruled over the centuries by various empires. Some let the Jewish people live and worship as they wished; others forbade them from their practices at the pain of death. During Jesus’ life and for centuries after, Jerusalem was dominated and ruled by the brutally violent Roman Empire, the empire that killed Jesus. Yes, Jerusalem was the site of religious joy and sacred memories. And Jerusalem was also the site of deep suffering, death, and oppression. Continue reading