Sunday 31 May 2020 - Pentecost Sunday

Happy Pentecost everybody! I hope you are doing ok on this day that is sometimes described as “the birthday of the Church”, the day on which we remember the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon the believers in Jerusalem and then upon 3000 others of many nationalities who were gathered in the Holy City for the Jewish spiritual and agricultural festival known in English as the feast of weeks. Let’s not think the Holy Spirit wasn’t around before then though, we encounter him throughout the Bible – but only from Pentecost did the Spirit fill all believers at all times. If you believe in Jesus Christ, Son of God, crucified and resurrected, you are a Spirit-filled believer!

This week Margaret Redfearn presented our message, a really powerful one as you’ll discover. I trust you will be encouraged and challenged by it in equal measure! Over to Margaret:

Readings: John 7.37-39 and Acts 2.1-21

Last weekend it was a bit windy wasn’t it, well I sleep most of the year with my bedroom window open, I like to have the room cool and I like the fresh air. Well last Saturday morning I was about to get up and suddenly the curtains blew horizontal into the room and one or two things were blown off the window sill. It was quite dramatic but not as dramatic as the wind we read about in Acts 2.

We join the disciples 10 days after Jesus has ascended into heaven. He had told them he was leaving but not to be sad because he was leaving a comforter someone who would be with them forever and ever.

People had travelled to Jerusalem from different parts of the known world to celebrate what is known as the festival of weeks a celebration of the first of the wheat harvest. 

We are told that the disciples were together in one place, when a wind began to blow, not a breeze, or a draft because someone had left the door or window ajar, no this was a violent wind it perhaps blowing things around in the house I would guess causing quite a racket. But not only that but from heaven appeared what are described as tongues of fire which separated and settled on the heads of each of the disciples. 

The promised gift Jesus had spoken about had now arrived they were each filled with the Holy Spirit. The disciples began to speak in languages of other countries and that was be a real attention grabber, people started looking at each other probably scratching their heads and saying what’s going on?  how come they can speak in my language. What does this mean. Some said oh they’ve been at the drink partying they’re drunk. But Peter, Peter who had only a couple of months before denied knowing Jesus or being one of his followers stood and spoke. It’s 9 oclock in the morning they aren’t drunk, this is what the prophet Joel spoke about when he said ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people, Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, you old men will dream dreams. Even on your servants, both men and women I will pour out my Spirit in those days and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ 

Following Peters words to the crowd we read that at least 3000 became believers, the church of Christ was born, the disciples went out and preached the gospel. The church didn’t start or grow because of the enthusiasm of these 12 men it grew because these men were empowered by the Holy Spirit which enabled them to show Gods love to all around them. The disciples received gifts of speaking in strange tongues, of healing of discernment and more. 

Are these things relevant for us today, some people say not, they say it was just for the time of the disciples, but I don’t believe that is right, why would God want to give something so powerful 2000 years ago and not want us to have that now.  The Holy Spirit is the connection between us and God, when we are at a loss about how to pray can ask the Holy Spirit to pray on our behalf he knows what our needs and the needs of the world are. 

Sometimes the Holy Spirit might show up in powerful ways to get our attention, or he may show up in a more gentle way and whisper in our ear. Are we open to the prompting of Gods Spirit, do we listen when he says, make that phone call, or knock on a neighbours door just to see it they are okay, at this time of lockdown and social distancing we need to be alert to the prompting of Gods Holy Spirit. 

I shall never forget a story I heard many years ago of a young woman let call her Mary, who was praying one evening and she felt God telling her she had to get up and go to Manchester airport. Mary struggled with this it seemed a crazy thing to do, but it just wouldn’t go away, she knew God was saying I want you to go to the airport. So she got up and went not understanding why, she parked her car and went into the airport and said ok God I’m here what now. As she looked around she saw a young woman sat alone and she felt God was saying I want you to and talk to her. She went and sat by the woman and she told her God had wanted her to speak with her,  and as they talked the young woman told her how she had lost her faith in God, they talked for a long time and it was nearly time for the young woman to go for her flight and she asked Mary to pray with her which she did and led her back to Christ. They parted and Mary went home, as she walked into the house her mother was there and said have you heard the news, there has been a terrible crash at the airport a plane had crashed on take-off and all the passengers had died. Of course the young woman Mary had prayed with was on that flight. 

God loved that young woman enough to send his Holy Spirit to prompt Mary to go to the airport to speak with her to lead her back to him. 

Can we like Mary be open enough to Gods Spirit to hear both the big calls and the small ones? 

Coronavirus has shaken our country and the whole world, apparently people have been searching the internet for details about prayer, people are seeking they need hope. Our hope comes in Jesus, are we willing to go out and share that good news with people, it can be scary but we need to remember that we aren’t doing it by our own efforts, we are doing it with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. 

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