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Pentecost: Celebrating the Spirit’s gifts and fruits

by the Rev. Bill Danaher

Pentecost celebrates the day that the Holy Spirit was given to the Church. This moment is recorded in the second chapter of the Book of Acts (2:1-42). The Spirit descended as a wind and fire appeared on the apostles’ foreheads. They are given the giftBill CR of tongues — the ability to speak the word of God in many languages. The episode concludes with Peter giving the first Spirit-filled sermon, proclaiming Jesus as the Crucified and now Raised Messiah.

Much has been made of the gifts of the Spirit that were made manifest that day. For generations, Christians have debated what it means for us today to speak the Gospel in many languages.

However, on Pentecost it is just as important for us to celebrate the fruits of the Spirit — the love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, and self-control that come to us as God’s grace in our lives (Gal. 5:22-23). These are just as remarkable as any gifts of the Spirit, and they speak the language of the Spirit just as powerfully. For the fruits of the Spirit advance not only the work of the church, but the Kingdom of God — God’s justice, peace, and reconciliation in our world.

These two aspects of the Spirit — the Spirit’s gifts and the Spirit’s fruits – will be equally celebrated this Pentecost. Concerning the gifts of the Spirit, I am writing to invite you all to bring a food that represents your ethnicity at the reception after the 10:00am service. Please bring enough to share and in a form that can be easily held and eaten. In this way, we will celebrate the many nations who have come within the reach of the church’s loving embrace. To sign up, and for more information, please contact Jill Bednes at jbednas@christchurchcranbrook.org.

The fruits of the Spirit will be celebrated by the formal announcement of our partnership with Samaritas to cosponsor a refugee family. Truly, there is no way we can better celebrate the Spirit’s power working in us to inspire works of justice and peace than by this new adventure in ministry.

Bing Goei HeadshotOur preacher this Pentecost is someone who has lived a life marked by both the Spirit’s gifts and fruits. Mr. Bing Goei is a committed Christian, and, in 2014, he was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder as the first director of the Michigan Office for New Americans (MONA). To know Mr.Goei’s life story is to understand the mission of MONA, which is to empower new Americans in Michigan, to cultivate the entrepreneurial spirt of our immigrant communities, and to make Michigan a more welcoming state.

As an immigrant himself, Mr. Goei is forever grateful for the wonderful opportunity his family was given when they immigrated to the United States as refugees. As an entrepreneur he started a successful business, and became a top job creator in West Michigan. In 2001, Mr. Goei purchased Eastern Floral out of bankruptcy and rebuilt the Eastern Floral Company, which has become a Top 50 Teleflora florist with five West Michigan locations in Holland, Grand Rapids, and Grand Haven. His passion for entrepreneurship and diversity led him to create the International Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence, a business incubator offering low-cost space to young, minority, and female entrepreneurs in Grand Rapids.

As a director of MONA, Mr. Goei is a uniquely qualified ambassador who is committed to “pay forward” his good fortune by working tirelessly on behalf of New Americans today who also want to call Michigan home – by cultivating partnerships and making known the many resources that will help afford new immigrants opportunities to pursue the American Dream just as he did.

We are delighted to have Mr. Goei with us to celebrate all that God is doing at Christ Church Cranbrook