This coming Sunday is Pentecost Sunday – often celebrating as the birthday of the church. When a group of terrified and inadequate people were filled and equipped by God for the task he had for them.
The Coming of the Holy Spirit
2 On the day of Pentecost all the Lord’s followers were together in one place. 2 Suddenly there was a noise from heaven like the sound of a mighty wind! It filled the house where they were meeting. 3 Then they saw what looked like fiery tongues moving in all directions, and a tongue came and settled on each person there. 4 The Holy Spirit took control of everyone, and they began speaking whatever languages the Spirit let them speak.
5 Many religious Jews from every country in the world were living in Jerusalem. 6 And when they heard this noise, a crowd gathered. But they were surprised, because they were hearing everything in their own languages. 7 They were excited and amazed, and said:
Don’t all these who are speaking come from Galilee? 8 Then why do we hear them speaking our very own languages? 9 Some of us are from Parthia, Media, and Elam. Others are from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, 10 Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, parts of Libya near Cyrene, Rome, 11 Crete, and Arabia. Some of us were born Jews, and others of us have chosen to be Jews. Yet we all hear them using our own languages to tell the wonderful things God has done.
12 Everyone was excited and confused. Some of them even kept asking each other, “What does all this mean?”
13 Others made fun of the Lord’s followers and said, “They are drunk.”
Peter Speaks to the Crowd
14 Peter stood with the eleven apostles and spoke in a loud and clear voice to the crowd:
Friends and everyone else living in Jerusalem, listen carefully to what I have to say! 15 You are wrong to think that these people are drunk. After all, it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 But this is what God had the prophet Joel say,
17 “When the last days come,
I will give my Spirit
Your sons and daughters
Your young men
will see visions,
and your old men
will have dreams.
18 In those days I will give
my Spirit to my servants,
both men and women,
and they will prophesy.
19 I will work miracles
in the sky above
on the earth below.
There will be blood and fire
and clouds of smoke.
20 The sun will turn dark,
and the moon
will be as red as blood
before the great
and wonderful day
of the Lord appears.
21 Then the Lord
will save everyone
who asks for his help.”
The disciples must have been feeling bereft. They had been through such a roller-coaster of events. Jesus life and all it had come to mean to them; his death and the bewilderment and confusion that must have ensued; his resurrection with the wondering that brought about; then his ascension, which must have left them feeling all alone again. But now God is here in a new way. A way that he can live inside them day in and day out. God’s presence with them no longer depends on a physical presence – he is with them for all time, equipping them and working in and through them.
This Sunday is also marked as Aldersgate Sunday, the day John Wesley pointed to as his conversion.
In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.
From the Journal of John Wesley
The coming of the Spirit is not just something that happened as a one-off in the lives of the disciples, or John Wesley, but an event that can take place in the hearts of each one of us – to KNOW God, to know he has taken all the things we’ve got wrong, and comes to equip us day by day for all he calls us to. We all need God with us everyday, whispering, shouting, prodding, comforting, warming, strengthening. We are his disciples, called to bring his message to the places we are, in a way they understand – for that we need God’s power, God’s indwelling – the Holy Spirit. And he is ready to pour it on us.
I pray that you will come today
anew into my life.