‘All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit…’(Acts 2:4)
Today is Pentecost Sunday and we rejoice and give thanks for the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit given to us by God in Heaven. However, just as there were some who mocked and made fun of those Disciples back then, so there may be some who will do likewise today. Some who will accuse us of being sad people for believing that foolish nonsense. And that got me thinking, I wonder how many of us here this morning have ever thought of ourselves as being sad Christians…
Perhaps we’re sad because we think that our church is going through a difficult time and all we see before us is a period of uncertainty. Or perhaps we’re sad because we think that our own faith lives are going through a turbulent time. And maybe today in the midst of this pandemic such a feeling would be understandable. Or perhaps we’ve been sad because, notwithstanding what we are going through today, still we look at the world and seem to see so little evidence of God’s Kingdom breaking through. And so we become despondent and down hearted
I’ve no doubt there are times when we could all say that we have been sad Christians…
But what if we think of sad in another way and not that emotional state of mind that we would normally associate that word with. What if we think of sad as a state of being – both living and thriving. What if we think of sad not as a word but as three letters S A D. And what if these actually stood for Spiritually Activated Disciples. Now that puts a whole slant on that original question. So how many of us might consider ourselves as SAD Christians now.
We all know the story of the Day of Pentecost so well. We can perhaps imagine the sound of the wind was reminiscent of Ezekiel’s reassuring prophecy of the valley of dry bones. And as for the flames that rested on each head. They would have perhaps reminded the Disciples of the pillar of fire that guided the Israelites through the desert during the time of the exodus.
But what was the message of Pentecost…
The Pentecost moment was really about a new perception and experience of the presence and power of God’s Spirit…It was the moment these Disciples became spiritually activated. And as these phenomena opened them to the Spirit’s activity, they finally began to understand Jesus’ message of the Reign of God and the Reign of God that was manifest on that day was welcoming in the extreme.
Think back to the Old Testament to the story of the Tower of Babel. Back then arrogant human beings, seeking to put themselves on a par with God had ultimately been separated from one another by the confusion of their language. But here that has been reversed and all barriers are overcome. The people were hearing the same language, so to speak.
And the message is simple and clear – this Kingdom is for all…
Having now been Spiritually Activated, the time had come for these Disciples to go and do the work that Jesus had asked of them – had prepared them for – to take His message far and wide – to all people. But once they had caught this vision those Disciples began to do just that. They began to spread the message to the whole world, including women, slaves, gentiles, soldiers, revolutionaries, and outcasts – all who had previously been considered as outsiders.
All too often today all we seem to hear of is that secularism is on the increase and that people again and again question the very existence of God…And yet, there is no question that God’s Spirit is still very much active in human affairs – if not, the world would be in complete chaos…God’s Holy Spirit hasn’t gone anywhere…it still moves through God’s people…
So maybe what we really need is not so much an outpouring of the Spirit, but more an awakening to the Spirit’s power and presence in our lives and to the welcoming Reign of God. And as we come together on this Pentecost Sunday we must look deep within our hearts and souls and ask ourselves…
Are we willing to allow ourselves to be totally overwhelmed by a vision of God’s radically inclusive Kingdom. And to begin to live it out, through spirit-empowered and enabled acts of welcome, compassion, grace, and service…
Are we ready to have Jesus law of love written on our hearts. To have our way illumined by the spirit’s fire and to be blown into unexpected relationships by the wind of the Spirit. Are we willing to become Spiritually Activated Disciples.
If we can answer yes, even just a little, then be in no doubt, the Pentecost experience will come to us, and we will never be the same. And as always God will be present. Jesus Christ will be present. And the Holy Spirit will again be blowing among those gathered in each faith community. Listen again to the words of Jesus speak and just imagine He is speaking to you personally, “…Peace be with you…as the Father has sent me, so I send you….”
The question is, are we ready to go? Are we ready to go out into the world as a Spiritually Activated Disciple, equipped to be Christ’s hands and feet in this time and place. I hope and pray that we will, as one body, of one mind and in the same Spirit. That this Pentecost moment may indeed inspire and encourage to go and share with others the Good News of Jesus Christ……Amen.
Living God, we remember today how You transformed the lives of Your Apostles, how by Your Spirit you turned their fear and uncertainty into a confidence and faith which knew no bounds. And today we would ask that you would come to us now through that same Spirit. Take our weak and hesitant faith and fill us with unshakable trust in Your purpose for us. Take our oft stumbling discipleship and grant us energy, passion and enthusiasm to proclaim Your Gospel through word and deed.
Take away any fear and anxieties we may have and grant to us Your courage and peace which passes all understanding. That we might use the gifts and talents You have given us in the service of your Kingdom and to the glory and honour of Your name.
Keep us mindful of the part You would have us play in Your will and help us to remember today, not simply all You did once, long ago, but to rejoice in all that You are doing now, and all that you will continue to do, through your Holy Spirit. And pour Your Spirit today upon all who need you most at this time, especially those who are suffering and in pain and those who are bereaved or missing loved ones, both here in our own communities and also throughout your world. And all this we would ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen.
Sunday evening – national call to prayer
As has been the case over the past few weeks, the leaders of all churches have come together to call us to prayer at 7.00pm this Sunday evening. Underneath is a prayer by the leaders of all churches that could be used to begin this time of prayer. The full statement can be found on the Church of Scotland website where it also lists all those leaders whom signed that statement.
Almighty God, by your Spirit, you brought order from chaos.
By your brooding Spirit, hovering over the void, you spoke and there was … something rather than nothing.
Create and recreate in and through us, we 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.
And then, 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.
Yes, Lord, grant us a fresh outpouring of your Spirit, we pray.
And all our prayers we offer in the name of our Lord and Saviour, none other than Jesus Christ. Amen.