The Disciples are in Jerusalem. They had witnessed Jesus ascend to Heaven and before leaving, had told them to stay in the city and wait. Wait, and “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you”? (Acts 1:8)
Jerusalem at that time of year was a busy place as pilgrims from far and wide descended on the city to join in the Feast of Pentecost. It was a long-established annual festival of celebrations and worship.
But while Jerusalem was in jubilant mood, the Disciples were subdued and sitting quietly together indoors. It was there, without warning, the Holy Spirit promised by Jesus, came to them.
Luke describes the scene for us in Acts 2:1-21. He tells of a sound like a violent wind from heaven. There were bright lights and what looked like flames of fire settled on each person in that room.
Spontaneously, they burst into praise of God in languages other than their own. They were filled with the Holy Spirit.
When they spilled out into the streets, their excitement, exuberance and ecstatic behaviour quickly drew attention. In no time a crowd had gathered, amazed by what they not only saw but also heard.
Every person could each hear and more importantly understand these local people excitedly speak and praise God in their own individual native tongue. No one had heard or seen anything like it before.
So, that was the Day of Pentecost. Those first Believers, energised and empowered by the Holy Spirit were galvanised into the Church and whose anniversary we remember today. Nothing could hold these enthusiastic, spirit-filled people back.
But while the Church has continued to celebrate this episode through the years, we may be tempted to think that it was an event which is merely part of the Church’s history.
We should be quite clear, however, the Holy Spirit has been active throughout time; from Creation. (Gen 1:1&2) “In the beginning, the Spirit of God was moving over the waters”.
The Holy Spirit spoke through David (acts 1:16), through Isaiah (Acts 28:25), through Joel. It is woven into the fabric of the New Testament.
Throughout Scripture, the Spirit has been at work in different ways, and we are to be in no doubt: the promise, the offer of the Spirit is made to all God’s People.
Peter, quoting the Prophet Joel (2:17&18) reminds us of God’s promise, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people,” Men, women, young and old alike, “I will pour out my Spirit on everyone,” says God.
The promise of the Spirit was not limited just to the Believers in the past, but also to those of the present. The promise of the Spirit is also to us, to you and to me, now and every day.
And the key? We see that the Apostles were following Jesus’ instruction to wait. They waited on God. They made themselves available and receptive to God.
That was all: nothing that we cannot do. Like the apostles, we are to make ourselves available and open to God. Prayerfully, we are to wait on God.
We may not see flames of fire resting on our heads or hear the sound of a loud, violent wind from heaven, but we do receive the power of the Holy Spirit in some way.
It is our Prayer that today, as we remember the events of the Day of Pentecost all those years ago, God will fill us, and all His People, with His Holy Spirit. The Spirit is given in the love of God and it is up to individual believers to let the Spirit change us from within.
At this time of Pentecost, and as we begin a new life with the easing of lockdown restrictions, may we become Believers who are alive, electrified, energised and excited by the Spirit.
May we become Believers who can speak and act in a way that communicates God’s living love to all.
“When the day of Pentecost came, all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit”. Let us pray that, this Pentecost, we too may be filled again and again with God’s Holy Spirit.
Let us pray,
And, as we do so, we join in the same prayer that thousands across the country will share on this Pentecost Sunday. Let us pray.
“Almighty God, by your Spirit, you equipped and gifted and led our ancestors to know you and to serve you and to glorify you.
Continue to equip and enable us, we pray.
Almighty God, as promised by the prophets and as never before, you poured out your Spirit on these first believers - on men and women, on the old and the young; and they were transformed and made alive, as dry bones brought to life.
Pour out your Spirit on us, we pray.
Almighty God, in these turbulent and uncertain times, send us the Comforter, that we might know you to be near. Grant us your healing touch and help us to know the rest that comes from resting in you.
For the loving touch of your Spirit, we pray.
Almighty God, by what seemed as a rushing wind and as tongues of fire you brought your Church to life. Come to your Church now, we pray, that by the same Spirit we might be renewed and refreshed and remade and revived.
Lord, grant us a fresh outpouring of your Spirit, we pray.
All our prayers we offer in the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ”.
Amen, and this Pentecost, may we all be blessed and renewed.