Ed23mayThis Sunday we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost recalling that first outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the early church. In a real sense we can speak of Pentecost as the birthday of the church. The appearances of Jesus in his risen body had come to an end, and he had taken leave of them in that form. Before his departure he had however made the wonderful promise of sending another, an advocate who would guide and lead and teach. He told them to wait and pray and to look forward to the coming of the Spirit who would lead them in the all truth.

The scriptures use dramatic language to describe that first Pentecost.

And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. [Acts 2:2-4]

They are trying to describe a deeply spiritual experience that they had never experienced before and human language is inadequate to capture the moment completely. They use the analogy of a mighty wind that did no damage, and a fire that didn't burn; clearly, they are trying to convey a powerful overwhelming moment of some kind. The effects of that moment are immediate and dramatic. The doors locked in fear are thrown open and this terrified group are transformed into fearless witnesses boldly proclaiming the triumph of the risen Jesus. So enthused are they that the onlookers think they have been on the wine. They preach the Gospel in the languages of all the Jews who had come to Jerusalem and are clearly understood. Whatever they had experienced has transformed them completely, and they meet with great success. We read how they added 3,000 to their numbers on that day alone.

That same Holy Spirit is given to us in our times, and while the moment may be less dramatic, the reality is as powerful. If it were not for the presence of the Holy Spirit in the church I think it would long since have collapsed under the weight of its own failings and sometimes scandalous sinfulness.

So happy birthday believers; this is the day the Lord has made, may he continue to pour our his Spirit on each one of us and may that Spirit heal the divisions in the Christian church so that we can together bear united witness to the ' .... one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all' (Eph. 4:5-6).

Philip Curran
St. Mary's Lucan

May 22, 2021 - 8:27pm
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