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From the June 2009 issue of The Christian Science Journal

REVISIT FOR A MOMENT the events leading up to the day in Christian history known as the Pentecost. Authorities had brutally crushed the small but growing movement of Christ Jesus. They'd crucified him and driven his followers into hiding. But on this morning a group gathered who had seen Jesus reappear alive after three days in the grave. Then, just weeks later, he disappeared in a cloud right in front of their eyes. Nothing remotely like that had been recorded for centuries, since the days of Elijah.

Now as these followers met "with one accord in one place" (Acts 2:1), they suddenly felt God's presence so intensely that they experienced heaven while sitting in an ordinary house. The effect on them was amazing. Some who'd been silenced by fear began to share what they'd learned from Jesus with anyone who would listen. They still met fierce opposition, but something had changed. After the Spirit poured out on them that day, the disciples handled opposition with new confidence. Publicly condemned, jailed and beaten, they refused to stop preaching and healing in Christ's name. And the church grew in love, in unity, and in numbers.

One way to describe the change that took place at Pentecost might be that the disciples moved from a defensive position to an offensive one. What caused the shift? What gave them the courage to go public and demonstrate Christ's way of escape from sin, suffering, and death to a world in desperate need of it? It's important to find answers to these questions if we want the power of the Holy Spirit to take over our lives and churches and make us better models and healers for those around us.

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