PENTECOST – the Celebration of the Gift of the Holy Spirit
and some thoughts from Rev Carol Price
What would it have been like for Jesus’ friends after he went back to heaven, I wonder? When they were just LEFT? They had been told by Jesus to STAY and WAIT for the power of the Holy Spirit.
Have you ever been in a position when you have lost someone very dear to you to be told to STAY and WAIT for something that has been promised, but you have no idea how and when it will happen? I would be tearing my hair out with fifty whole days of STAYING in Jerusalem and just WAITING until the promised Holy Spirit came.
Jesus’ final words to his friends, recorded in the book of Acts. Chapter 1 verse 8:- ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be my witnesses’ and in verse 4 ‘wait for the gift my Father promised’. Again in Luke (Chapter 24 verse 49) we have Jesus saying, ‘stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high’ I wonder how those friends of Jesus spent their 50 days of staying and waiting?
- The Religious leaders in Jerusalem wouldn’t have been too pleased to see them, and think of the ridicule the disciples would have experienced if they had such an encounter?
- How could the disciples go back completely to the lives they lived before they had ‘left all and followed Jesus’?
- Did they wrestle with doubt in all that waiting – ‘Did Jesus say….?’ ‘Did we really get it right, did we miss anything…?’ Was there a growing anxiety? ‘It has been so long – how can we be sure the Holy Spirit will come?’
And then it happened! They were all together when the building began to rock and shake with a violent wind and with what looked like fire (Acts chapter 2 verses 1-4). This fire seemed to split itself into tongues of flame that rested on each of them. Wow – what a sight! What would we have made of that? It would have been scary and exciting all at once! But at last the power of the Holy Spirit, promised by Jesus had come! At last those friends of Jesus knew beyond a shadow of doubt that this was what they had been waiting for, for so long. The fire of the Holy Spirit had not only come to them as a group, but had come to each one of them individually. How very special was that?
The crucifixion had happened during the Festival of Passover. Now there was another big gathering of Jews for the Festival of Pentecost (one of several Harvest Festivals in the Jewish calendar). The excited disciples, filled with this overwhelming joy, spilled into the crowded streets of Jerusalem and couldn’t help praising God and talking about Jesus. Jews and converts to Judaism had come for the Festival from every nation, and as they heard the noise and commotion, they were utterly amazed that they heard the disciples speak to them in their own languages. Many put it down to the disciples being drunk, but Peter stood and raised his voice and told them the real reason, ‘Let this be known to you and listen to what I say’ Peter said ‘these are not drunk as you suppose. No this is what was spoken through the Prophet Joel’- ‘I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions… I will pour out my Spirit.’ (Joel chapter 2. verses 28-32)
Did those who listened realise that the words written by the prophet so long ago, were now happening in their time for them to witness!
For us in 2015, all this happened so long ago – but still the power of the Holy Spirit is available to all who believe. We just have to ask him to come, and he will – because he always does – continually pointing us to Jesus, encouraging us to go onward and filling us with power and ability to witness and heal. In the Gospel of Luke chapter 11 verse 13, Jesus tells us and encourages us that as we know how to give gifts to our children, how much more will our heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him. Do you want to be useful to God? Do you want others to know the Good News of Jesus? Do you want to make a difference to your friends and neighbours in your community, so they can experience God’s reign (Kingdom) here and now? It may be scary, and it may be frustrating, but there will be great joy, too. Jesus calls us to continue in the Adventure of following him. Are you up for it? by Revd Carol Price.