“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.” [ Acts ch2 v1-4]
Happy Birthday to the Church!! This day of Pentecost is a time for celebration where the gift of the Holy Spirit was given; the guide, the counsellor, the supporter, prompter, innovator, the small inner voice we call our conscience, all these and more. Normally we would have had a celebration service in the church but this year, the church like everyone else has to have a muted celebration. A marking of the day yet not able to be together and sad as this we have a Celebration Service on the Church of Scotland web-site which the Moderator has invited us all to watch. [the information for this is on our web-site].
I know that many are missing church life, the sense of well-being felt after a service, that time of peace and lives refreshed and renewed. Some even might have looked for ward to the short talk to the girls of the Sunday School and what we were going to do next. As I was thinking of Pentecost I remember the year I asked the girls to hold a scarf each [the scarves were very colourful and floated well] and asked them to run around the church and as they ran the scarves floated behind them, it was a beautiful sight. It helped us all to understand that though we could not see the wind or rush of air which held up the scarves, we could see it in action. Likewise with the Holy Spirit we cannot see it but we can see the outcome of the Spirit’s influence.
In the Book of Acts we read how the Spirit showed its Presence – with sound [a rushing wind] and with a visual effect [the tongues of flame] and the outcome that everyone could understand was being able to hear the speech of the Apostles in their own language. In these the people saw the Spirit in action, for suddenly the Apostles were overjoyed, Spirit-filled, they talked of Jesus and His Saving work. They were so excited and so joyous that they were accused of being drunk.
This was the moment when Peter came into his own, he stepped up and delivered such a sermon which touched the hearts of so many that about 3,000 were baptised that day. Simply because of what they saw and what they had heard and convinced by the Spirit. These were the followers of Jesus who were doing this, talking boldly about God and His love, telling everyone about Jesus.
These were the same followers who not long before had abandoned Jesus in His hour of need, Peter denied knowing Him three times. The same followers who had gathered in a locked room fearful for their lives with Thomas demanding to see the scars of Jesus before he would believe. The same ones who stumbled along while with Jesus never quite getting the point of His teaching.
They moved from darkness to the light in a flash of time, they now understood all that He had taught, they were confident and bold and could communicate with anyone and everyone. They were the same people but now they were filled with the Holy Spirit and found themselves serving in a completely different way far above their own expectations.
The Holy Spirit has not gone away with the passing of the Apostles and the early Christians. The Spirit is around us now; helping, guiding, prompting, showing us all new ways of worship and communication. The use of Websites and Facebook, “Zoom” and “Facetime” [and the rest] for meetings and catch-ups, the use of the phone for Pastoral Chats, these thoughts and prayers on our web-site have all been thrust upon us as church leaders but in each case we have found a way of reaching people. Is it a co-incidence or a God-incidence that technology has been so well developed and has been such a comfort to many?
The Spirit has been at work in our lives, in the friendly phone call, the blessing of good weather so that we can get some fresh air and see the wonder of nature. The small blessings we see every day and the realisation that we have taken so much for granted. The Spirit brings joy to our hearts as we give thanks for the church, so, let’s celebrate and say, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHURCH”.
LET US PRAY
ALMIGHTY AND EVERLASTING GOD,
We seek refreshment of our souls in Your Presence, we stop to “Be Still” and to be refreshed as if we were walking by a living stream. The sound of water running by takes away our cares and we leave them with You, all the burdens we carry, anxiety, guilt, unhappiness, despair, all are laid at Your feet. You take these burdens and simply blow them away and we are left refreshed and renewed.
We thank You for the action and support of the Holy Spirit, for the new way of communication, for the loving support everyone has shown to one another, for the Hope we have in Jesus Christ our Saviour. for the inspiration of the Spirit which maintains our faith in difficult times and strengthens us to face the challenges we have come through and have yet to bear in the coming months.
We pray for our nation, for the Queen and the members of the Royal Family at this time. We pray for the leaders who have difficult decisions to make and we pray for everyone who has to comply with the awkward way of life which we shall find in the future.
We pray today for those who are ill for any reason, the dying who cannot see their loved ones and we ask you comfort for all those who mourn.
We thank You O Lord for the good work of the Boys Brigade and Girls Brigade in supporting young people and pray for all children and young adults at this time when so many worry about their future hope of a career, or worry about missing school.
Lord we place all these hopes and fears into Your Loving Hands and ask a blessing on each one we have prayed for today.
We ask in Jesus name,
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