During the dark days of the Great Depression in 1930s America, Mr. Ira Yates was like many other ranchers and farmers in dusty West Texas. He had a lot of land, and a lot of debt. Ira wasn’t able to make enough on his farmstead to pay the principal and interest on the mortgage, so he was in danger of losing everything. With little money for the basic necessities of life, his family was forced to live on government subsidy.
Then one day a seismographic crew from the Standard Oil Company came into the area and informed Ira that there might be undrilled oil on his land. They asked permission to drill an oil well, and in desperation, he signed a lease contract.
At 1,115 feet they struck a mammoth oil reserve. The first well came in at 80,000 barrels a day! Many subsequent wells were more than twice as large. In fact, 30 years after the initial “wildcat” dig, a government test of one of the wells showed it still had the potential flow of 125,000 barrels of oil a day! And Mr. Yates owned it all!
Think of it: the day he purchased the land he had received the oil and mineral rights. Yet, he and his family had been living on bare minimum. A multimillionaire who did not know it, living in abject poverty. He had all the resources he would ever need right under his feet…literally. But, he didn’t even know it.
Why am I sharing this story with you? Because we are a lot like Mr. Yates spiritually speaking at times. We are beneficiaries of a vast cache of God’s spirit and yet we live in spiritual paucity, settling for less than the best of what God has for us.
This coming Sunday denotes the climax of Eastertide with the Day of Pentecost. Pentecost, which means fifty, marks the fifty days between Easter Sunday and the celebration of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the earth (Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 2) and the birth and beginning of the Church of Jesus Christ.
The Day of Pentecost is supposed to be more than a day on the Christian liturgical calendar. Carlyle Fielding Stewart, one of my favorite preachers, put it best when he said:
“Too many churches today are devoid of the Spirit of Pentecost because they are dry, stale, and discordant, where parishioners are in a somnambulist stupor; where worship services are vapid, staid, and wooden; where the preaching is dull, flat, and insipid; where the singing is Geritol-tired and without the vim, verve, and verse which speaks of a crucified, died and risen Lord…Too many churches have become mausoleums for the dead rather than coliseums of praise for a living God. They have lost the spirit of Pentecost!”
This week we will celebrate Pentecost in all our worship services, and in the 8:30 and 11:00 a.m. Traditions services, I will continue our current sermon series Reasons to Believe: Confronting the Eight Most Common Objections to Christianity with the sermon: “I Like the Teachings of Jesus, But I’m Not Sure About the Church.”
In addition, at 6:00 p.m. this coming Sunday in the new sanctuary, we will host our confirmation service. The chancel choir will be providing special music and I will be preaching a distinctive message just for our confirmands. I hope you will join us as we encourage 43 young adults in their public profession of faith and welcome them in to full membership in the church.
Last but not least, don’t forget the 2018 Summer Institute of Religious Studies, titled Faith on the Fringe? Together we’ll work to understand alternative faith perspectives such as Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, and Scientology, just to name a few. If you have ever wondered what these religious communities actually believe or how they compare with mainstream Christianity, these eight sessions this summer, beginning on Wednesday, July 11 at 6:30 p.m., will prove helpful to you. Register now!
See you Sunday!