The Triumph of Christianity

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Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26 ESV

This weekend at Trinity Downtown, we will be celebrating the Festival of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit first filled the hearts of Jesus’ followers after His resurrection and ascension. Pentecost is also considered the birth of the Church, when Peter’s first proclamation of the Gospel (powered by the Holy Spirit) resulted in 3,000 people from all over the known world becoming Christ-followers. Talk about kick-starting the Gospel!

Today, it’s easy for us to take Christianity for granted. Jesus’ teachings have transformed the world and are held up as THE standard for moral behavior even by most pre-Christians. Our western culture is steeped in His words and has been (very imperfectly) shaped by His values. It’s not easy for us to understand what it must have been like for the little band of Jesus followers in the Upper Room in 33 AD.

In his 1996 book The Rise of Christianity-how the obscure, marginal Jesus movement became the dominant religious force in the Western World in a few centuries Dr. Rodney Start takes a scholarly approach to measure how the Holy Spirit empowered these early Christians. It was a shaky start; in 100 AD Stark estimates the number of Christian believers in the Roman Empire was a paltry 7,530 people out of a population that totaled 60 million souls. But by 350 AD, he estimates that 56% of the Empire’s population called themselves Christians. Little is much, if God is in it.

Our American culture certainly appears to be drifting away from its Christian roots. Sometimes it feels like committed Christians are, again, a tiny minority in a vast sea of non-believers. But we can take heart that the gates of Hell will not prevail against Jesus’ church. The fire of the Holy Spirit still lives in our hearts. His wind still blows in the church, even if He sometimes has to sneak in the back door of our hearts. The Living Water continues to flow. Change happens as the Holy Spirit moves. Stones still roll away.

This weekend, we’ll also be celebrating ANOTHER “birth”—the restart of in-person worship services since the COVID lockdown began. During this difficult time, we’ve seen multiple examples of how the Holy Spirit’s movement simply cannot be contained. He moves in Bible classes held via video conference, online worship services and telephone conversations between two believers. So, whether you chose to participate on-campus or on-screen, be on the lookout for Jesus’ warm presence in your heart.

This weekend is overflowing with celebration, including Michael and Abby’s Winckler’s last weekend with us.  Michael will be attending his first classes at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis this summer as he prepares for pastoral ministry. During all services on May 30 and 31, a gift box will be available for those who wish to share a card or financial gift in thanksgiving for Michael’s ministry. Members may also send financial gifts and cards directly to the church (800 Houston Ave. Houston, TX 77007). All checks should be payable directly to Michael Winckler. Gifts collected after Michael and Abby move will be mailed to their new home in St. Louis.

During this COVID crisis we’ve been given the opportunity to demonstrate to our family and neighbors how “not fearing what they are fearing” can make a real difference in how we can show Jesus’ love during this trying time. Instead of worrying, let’s cast our cares and worries on the strong shoulders of Jesus.

We look forward to celebrating the birth of the Church and power of the third Person of the Trinity with you this weekend.

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