It never fails. You can always count on a good chuckle from the congregation when we read from Acts 2.
Specifically, it comes when we read Peter’s opening defense of what has happened at Pentecost. You’ll recall that the 120 disciples began to speak in foreign languages. People from all over the world who had come to the Temple heard them speaking in their native tongue.
In amazement, many asked, “What does this mean?”
Others weren’t as impressed. They laughed at the whole display and figured the disciples had too much wine.
Here comes the funny part for most churchgoers.
Peter assured onlookers that the disciples weren’t drunk. It was, after all, only nine o’clock in the morning. I can hear the church chuckle now.
We tend to laugh because it sounds absurd. Being drunk isn’t funny, but being drunk at 9am? My assumption is alcoholics don’t laugh at that verse. It’s not out of the realm of possibility for drinkers to get started early. Especially if there are more than one hundred of them together. The prophet Isaiah once gave this warning, “Woe to those who rise early in the morning in pursuit of strong drink, who linger into the evening, to be inflamed by wine” (Isaiah 5:11).
To me, Peter uses the time excuse on purpose. At least for us, it is a reminder of the 9am prayer time everyone would have been aware of. See? Another connection between prayer and the power of God.
Remember, the disciples gathered in Acts 1 in pursuit of God. That is, they gathered upstairs and joined in prayer.
I’m not going to give up on that.
God things happen to a church that prays together. Stop assuming your church is praying. Let’s encourage one another to actually sit down with each other and pray.
I don’t mean to suggest we can have our own Pentecost reenactment. That’s not the point of reading from Acts 2. We aren’t trying to make what happened then happen now. But we do want to understand and experience the grace and power of God. Our desire is to know Christ.
Since we’ve already reiterated the importance of corporate prayer, let’s consider Peter’s next defense. He used the Bible to interpret what happened that morning. Can you imagine the amount of wine that would have been poured out to get more than one hundred people drunk? You would need a lot.
Because he knew the promise spoken of from the prophet Joel, Peter understood God was pouring out an abundance of the Spirit upon all people right before their eyes. Taken together, the amazement and scoffing spoken of in Acts 2 shows us just how much the whole event was for everyone to take in. The events of that day were what God had planned all along. The time for that outpouring had finally come.
Whatever outpouring we experience I believe will come from our willingness to gather in prayer together. The power of God is already known. The Spirit will awaken the church as we seek God together through prayer.
If the church is to reimagine a shared, dynamic prayer life it will not be by accident. We’ll need to develop and endorse such a shift in priorities. I’m willing to do that. Are you ready?