Pentecost – 24 May 2015

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Diane Hopping


As I read the passages in preparation for today, these verses stood out for me.

When the advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf.   You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.

I did not say these things to you from the beginning because I was with you………………

When the spirit comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

After that first Easter over 2000 years ago the disciples would have been in quite a state. Their leader, Jesus had been put on trial, crucified, died and buried. Then 3 days later he rose again. Now he was with them again. They had seen his wounds,……… there was no doubt that it was him,……. he had risen,……… just as he said he would.

We are disciples in our world today,   if you were there at this time,  Where would your head be?……..  What emotions would be charging through your body? ……..  Picture it, …………    you had completed months of travelling around Galilee and Judea on the way to Jerusalem.

Jesus had tried to tell you what was to come and why,… but it never really made sense……… Then he does die and come back again…… What do you feel ?….. Do you understand what you have witnessed? …..

I imagine they felt all emotions swamp over them at once,….. happiness,.. fear,.. awe,.. relief,.. and confusion.

And then Jesus tells them that he is going away,   … with out them. They had travelled together for months and now they can’t go with him……

He told them to wait in Jerusalem and God would send a special gift to help them. Jesus said in Acts 1  that John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy spirit not many days from now.

So this is what they did. Waited together,… praying … and waiting… John tells us that Jesus told the disciples, that the Spirit of truth would come and guide them into all the truth.  Last week  you learnt  about the Ascension and I am here to talk about Pentecost.

The Feast of Weeks or Pentecost as it came to be known is traditionally held 50 days after Passover.    The first Pentecost was held 50 days after the Passover. Exodus 12 : 12 tells us that at that time the Lord would sweep over all of Egypt and strike down every first born in the land, and to safeguard the Israelites they had to place sacrificial blood on the doorways of their houses, and God would pass over them. 50 days later Moses received the 10 commandments from God on Mount Sinai.

So  in Jewish tradition, it is the time to remember the giving of the Old Testament Law at Mt Sinai, and  to give thanks for the wheat harvest. So it is natural to think that the Disciples would have gathered together on this day with their supporters. Especially after the events of the last Passover,…. they would have wondered what might happen next …  as they waited together ,….as Jesus had asked. Now the days of waiting were over!

Then came the wind, it was violent and loud, roaring among them. Great tongues, divided like the flames of fire roared among them and rested on each one of them….. They were filled with the Holy Spirit. Among the roaring of the wind they could hear a multitude of tongues speaking languages not known to them,….. yet they could hear what was being said in their own language…. Quite a lot of noise and bewilderment, but not the same as at Babel…. In fact it was the opposite of Babel, then the voices were of the multitude who had been building a tower to reach to the heavens as a sign of their importance and God intervened and made their speech unintelligible to each other and so firced them to spread out over the earth.  Here people were given the gift of talking in ‘tongues’. If you have ever learnt another language you know that it takes time and effort, yet here they could do so instantly, and also in    ‘ Glossolalia’ … an ecstatic form of speech attributed to the Holy Spirit. They spoke in all the languages of the earth, but by the power of the Holy Spirit they were able to understand one another.

As the disciples moved out into the streets,  their strange activity attracted the attention of the people who were confused by what they heard. Many were amazed and some thought they were drunk.

Peter, who had denied Jesus after the trial, was so filled with the spirit that he stood up and publically announced that God’s Kingdom had arrived and Jesus was the Messiah. Now, at that time Jerusalem was full of pilgrims from all parts of the empire and they listened to Peter’s message and understood him. He reminded them what the prophet Joel had said about God pouring out his spirit upon the flesh. These people would have taken Peter’s message with them when they returned to their homelands…. The people came together to receive the Holy Spirit and left to build a kingdom.

Now when the Law was presented to Moses on Mt Sinai,  wind and fire were present, so a link is made to the Old Testament,   that this portends something is taking place that comes from God.

This particular celebration of Pentecost with the gift of the Holy Spirit, came 50 days after the death of Christ at the previous celebration of Passover,…..    and marks a crucial turning point between the age of the Mosaic Covenant from Mt Sinai,……….. to the age of the new covenant made possible by Jesus death,…. resurrection ….and exaltation to the right hand of the Father,….. in atonement for our sins.

God equipped the Church for it’s task of witness and mission.    God gave the gift of the Holy Spirit to seal his new covenant with us. We can’t see the Holy Spirit,  it is  just like electricity, we can’t see that either,  but we do know when it is present. We have the advantage of more knowledge over time, of the way the Holy Spirit can work in us, but to these people it was a new gift,… an experience they had no concept of.


So, how does the Holy Spirit work?

We read in Acts of the feats of the disciples, so we know how the Spirit worked in the early church.

What about us?     Do we know when the Spirit is working in us?  Because the Spirit is still with us,  guiding us today.

Sometimes we know we are on the wrong path or making the wrong choice  and we need to change direction. That is the Holy Spirit tapping you on the shoulder…….. does that sound familiar?

Sometimes we are calm in a crisis, and we wonder how did we ever do that? That’s the Holy Spirit at work.

Sometimes we worry, or question, and then suddenly the answer pops in,  and we KNOW what we need to do, that’s the Holy Spirit .

Sometimes we help someone else, at just the right moment, that’s the Holy Spirit at work, answering their prayers through us.

I always feel a strong presence of the Spirit when I see a rainbow. It is as if the sins have been washed away and the Spirit has spread over the Earth to renew us and charge us with God’s mission.

When we pray to God we are plugging in to the power of God and the Spirit of God is unleashed, the Holy Spirit fills us and helps us, just as it did with Peter.

Like the disciples in Jerusalem, we need to take time to stop and wait  –  we need to make sure there is time and space in our lives for what God is planning next.

God loves us all, even when we question that love, and don’t SEE it, we are the beloved of God. God’s measure is with abundance and generosity,… overflowing,… when we trust him.

Jesus said, … “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to all the ends of the earth.”

The Spirit of God is upon us all, just as it was on the first Pentecost disciples – to spread the love and joy of God’s promises, and to draw us close to God, in thankfulness.


Homework.    ( Yes,   I was a teacher.)

When you go out today, during the week, before you come back next week ………..I want you to think about where the Holy Spirit has been at work in your life.

When something happens, ask yourself….Where is God in this?

Look for him in your life.

Let him in.