at St James the Great, Aston Abbotts
First Reading Acts 2.1-21
When the day of Pentecost came, the disciples were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs – we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
“‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
I will show wonders in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
Gospel John 14.8-17(25-27)
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful people
and kindle in them the fire of your love.
When the Gospel is announced the reader says
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to N.
All Glory to you, O Lord.
Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
“If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you for ever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
This is the Gospel of the Lord.
All Praise to you, O Christ.
Pentecost—Πεντηκοστή ἡμέρα 50th day after resurrection of Christ—Greek name for the Feast of Weeks, a prominent feast in the calendar of ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai. Jewish harvest festival.
Whitsun—7 weeks after Easter—50 days—Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the 12 Apostles and other followers of Jesus as described in Acts 2 which forms today’s first reading. Pentecost is sometimes described by some Christians as the ‘Birthday of the Church.’
Pentecost—profoundly disturbing time. Accounts vary—from Jesus breathing on disciples—quiet, private, still small voice, comforting—to fire, wind and public disturbance.
Jesus predicted gift of Holy Spirit in John 14. Chapter opens:
Jesus Comforts His Disciples
14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
Imagine disciples reached low point when John 14 is read at funerals. Passage is balm—like comfortable words in BCP. Thomas famously is the only one of disciples to admit they don’t know where Jesus going. Jesus replies I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Philip asks Jesus to stop talking in riddles—Show us the Father, and that will be enough for us. Then Jesus admits I and the Father are One. Astounding admission. How can they take it in? Particularly when Jesus is no longer with them?
Answer: Presence and action of Holy Spirit. What exactly is third member of Trinity? Three different accounts—don’t conflict—HS is all of them.
b. Continuing comforting presence of Jesus in Church
c. Source of Peace.
a. That which unites us to Christ
b. Makes us into his body
c. Gives us particular gifts for good of community
a. Power of God
b. Mighty burning wind blowing Church into new and unexpected places of ministry
Gospel reading is comforting. Comforter. Counsellor. Advocate—one standing beside you in court—pleading your case—being on your side.
Acts is disturbing. Fire—wind—noise.
· Church transformed unto community of prophets
· Transforming Spirit given to all in body of Church
· Rebounds as sign through early church—lowest to highest—slave and master—means of telling whether someone is or is not Christian.
John the Baptist predicted action of Christ—Coming One will baptize with Holy Spirit and with fire.
If I was invited to lead service, and said it would be Spirit led or Spirit-filled you might be wary of what sort of worship this might be. Toronto blessing. Falling over backwards. Speaking in tongues. Liturgical Woodstock.
But should our services not all be filled with the Spirit—led by the Spirit in some way? Notice the same confusion applied on the very first Pentecost. People from all over empire crowded into Jerusalem. Witnessed the hubbub, confusion and disturbance of this kind of public revival meeting.
But no one spoke in tongues. The people heard the disciples speaking in their own languages. Some accused the disciples of being drunk, but that claim was easily refuted.
Peter stood up with the 11 and proclaimed to the crowd that this event was the fulfilment of prophecy 'And in the last days,' God says, 'I will pour out my spirit upon every sort of flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy and your young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams."
Acts 2:41 then goes on: "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls."
Peter stated that this event was the beginning of a continual outpouring that would be available to all believers from that point on, Jews and Gentiles alike.
Continual outpouring to present day. Are we aware of this gift of grace? Do we experience continual outpouring of God’s Spirit? For it is nothing less than the way we perceive and experience God’s presence with us, which just as likely will be barely perceptible—sound of sheer silence—rather than noise and disturbance of fire, wind or tempest. Or speaking in tongues and falling backwards, for that matter. But without a personal experience in our worship and in our lives, we are the poorer for it—that’s my challenge today, to develop our relationship with God through his Spirit, in our lives and in our worship.
Jesus said to Philip How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.
So must we live in Christ, and allow God’s Spirit to live in us, and do His work through us. Amen