Pentecost

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Alleluia. Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

Jesus Christ, whom we worship, is our crucified, risen and ascended Lord and we have walked with him through his journey of love. We have faced the agony of his suffering and death on a cross. We have rejoiced at his bursting free from the bonds of death. We have enjoyed his risen presence with us and his revelation of himself through the breaking of bread. We have seen his return to the throne before which every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that this Jesus is Lord. And now, with the followers of his own time, we await the coming of the promised Holy Spirit, his gift to his people, through whom we make Christ known to the world.

As we wait in silence,
fill us with your Spirit.

As we listen to your word,
fill us with your Spirit.

As we worship you in majesty,
fill us with your Spirit.

As we long for your refreshing,
fill us with your Spirit.

As we long for your renewing,
fill us with your Spirit.

As we long for your equipping,
fill us with your Spirit.

As we long for your empowering,
fill us with your Spirit.

Readings

Acts 2:1-21 (NLT)

On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.

They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee, and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages! Here we are—Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia, 10 Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans, and Arabs. And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!” 12 They stood there amazed and perplexed. “What can this mean?” they asked each other.

13 But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying, “They’re just drunk, that’s all!”

14 Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, “Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem! Make no mistake about this. 15 These people are not drunk, as some of you are assuming. Nine o’clock in the morning is much too early for that. 16 No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel:

17 ‘In the last days,’ God says,
    ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
    Your young men will see visions,
    and your old men will dream dreams.
18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit
    even on my servants—men and women alike—
    and they will prophesy.
19 And I will cause wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below—
    blood and fire and clouds of smoke.
20 The sun will become dark,
    and the moon will turn blood red
    before that great and glorious day of the Lord arrives.
21 But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord
    will be saved.’

John 7:37-39 (NLT)

37 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” 39 (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)

Homily

Jesus says ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me’ I wonder what you are thirsty for at the moment? Pentecost is a normally a time of real celebration, the birth of the church, the coming of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the spirit that enable worship, outreach and discipleship.

But of course, for those first disciples it was a time of real uncertainty. They were traumatised by Jesus arrest and crucifixion, maybe even wondering if they were next. Then there were a whole load of rumours about his resurrection three days after his death – some people were adamant they had seen him, several times there had been sightings; the women who went to his body, the friends travelling to Emmaus, some of the disciples, and now they had been told to wait – but for what? Some had said Jesus was taken up into the clouds. It was all so confusing so disorientating.

I wonder if you can identify with any of the ways the disciples were feeling? After all we live in a confusing time, no one quite knows what’s going to happen next. We wait in hope for the day when things will return to normal – but if you are anything like me you are struggling to remember what normal even is. I suspect Jesus followers were waiting to return to normal too, to go back to the fishing and other jobs, to see if they could remember what it was like before this whole thing began.

But first they had to wait – Jesus had promised something but no one was quite sure what. They were going up to Jerusalem anyway for the Jewish festival of Shavuot – 50 days after Passover. It would be a time of celebration and gathering together. At least they could wait with each other, and see what happens.

Of course the events we now know as the Christian festival of Pentecost are foretold in the bible. Joel’s prophecies taught that God will pour out God’s Spirit on all people. No longer would it be just for a few prophets or leaders. He prophesied that the barriers that come between us in worship would be broken down and that there would be new life, and we see the beginning of this in the way people experienced the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

That’s I think where I find Jesus words especially helpful. His words speak of anyone who is thirsty. Like the disciples wanting refreshment when they were so disorientated by the events of Easter, so too can we come when we are tired and in need of refreshment, wherever we happen to be in our spiritual life. There are no qualifications, no level of faith we must have. Anyone who wants to, anyone who is thirsty can come. We see it in our Acts reading, many people of many different languages are touched, this is no longer a faith for people who come just from the small section of society the disciples were part of,  many people of different cultures races and areas are touched by God. The refreshment of God is living water for everyone. This second part of our gospel, where Jesus talks of rivers of living water is a sign of hope for the future. The last chapter of Revelation – the last chapter of the whole bible speaks of the river of life. In a country filled with desert a river is a powerful metaphor of life, bring not only food and water but trade, it is a sign of abundance. This is the promise of the Spirit and abundance of refreshment for those who are thirsty. So I go back to our question at the start, what things in life are you thirsty to see? And what things might God be thirsty for? Is it for justice for hope for the poor for love for the lonely? What things has God put on your heart, is there anything you need to pray you might be more thirsty for? And finally where in your heart do you need to know the refreshing love and grace of the river of living water? By God’s grace may we all be replenished afresh by the streams of living water and learn to thirst for the things of God this Pentecost.

Intercessions:

Holy Spirit of peace,
we pray for homes and nations where there is discord and conflict.
Pour out your breath of peace that people
may listen to each other;
may respect one another;
may honour each other.
Holy Spirit, hear us.
Come, Holy Spirit, come.

Holy Spirit of hope,
we pray for those who live in despair;
for those who can see no purpose in their lives;
for those who cannot see a way ahead;
for those who feel completely alone.
Holy Spirit, hear us.
Come, Holy Spirit, come.

Holy Spirit of unity,
we pray for your Church,
for its ministry to the faithful;
for its mission to the world.
May the Spirit of Pentecost breathe upon us,
that we may witness to the world
the comfort, meaning and love that you offer.
Heal our differences and make us one in you.
Holy Spirit, hear us.
Come, Holy Spirit, come.

Holy Spirit of comfort
we pray for those who are ill,
and for all lonely or grieving this day.
May the Spirit of Pentecost draw near to them
bringing strength and healing and hope.
Holy Spirit, hear us.
Come, Holy Spirit, Come.

In the name of our Saviour we pray.
Amen.

Blessed are you, sovereign God, overflowing in love.
With Pentecost dawns the age of the Spirit.
Now the flame of heaven rests on every believer.
Strong and weak, women and men tell out your word;
the young receive visions, the old receive dreams.
With the new wine of the Spirit
they proclaim your reign of love.
Amid the birth pangs of the new creation
the way of light is made known.
Source of freedom, giver of life,
blessed are you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God forever.

For fifty days we have celebrated the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ over the powers of sin and death. We have proclaimed God’s mighty acts and we have prayed that the power that was at work when God raised Jesus from the dead might be at work in us. As part of God’s Church here in N, I call upon you to live out what you proclaim. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, will you dare to walk into God’s future, trusting him to be your guide?
By the Spirit’s power,we will.

Will you dare to embrace each other and grow together in love?
We will.

Will you dare to share your riches in common and minister to each other in need?
We will.

Will you dare to pray for each other until your hearts beat with the longings of God?
We will.

Will you dare to carry the light of Christ into the world’s dark places?
We will.

The Lord is here.
His Spirit is with us.

Today we have remembered the coming of God’s power on the disciples and we invite that same Spirit to drive us out into the wild places of the world.

The Spirit of truth lead you into all truth,
give you grace to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
and strengthen you to proclaim the word and works of God;
And the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
Amen.

Filled with the Spirit’s power,
go in the light and peace of Christ. Alleluia, alleluia.
Thanks be to God. Alleluia, alleluia.

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