The day of Pentecost had come, and they were all together in one place. Suddenly there came from the sky what sounded like a strong driving wind, a noise which filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them flames like tongues of fire distributed among them and coming to rest on each one. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other tongues, as the spirit gave them power of utterance.’ (Acts 2: 1 – 4)
After Jesus rose from the dead, he showed himself to his friends in many places some ordinary and mundane like the upper room where they had met him many times before, others more unusual, such as the road to Emmaus. A few weeks later, having convinced all of his disciples that he had risen, even doubting Thomas, Jesus left this world and ascended to his Father in heaven, as we remember on Ascension Day, May 26th this year.
Before Jesus left his disciples, he told them that he would not be leaving them alone because soon he would send his Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen them. So, as the verses I quoted at the beginning show, when the day of Pentecost arrived, the disciples were taken over by something or someone else very different whom they knew was the Spirit of Jesus, returned to their world to stay for evermore. This Spirit appeared to them in very vivid terms. It appeared firstly, as a wind which blew not just through their house but the whole of their lives forcing them to reconsider all that they were doing. Secondly as tongues for of fire giving them energy and courage to do things they could never have done before. Thirdly as tongues of unity which allowed them to work together in harmony in a way they had never done before.
The temptation is to see the gift of the Spirit as something given only to a select few ‘Holy people’ who have particularly flowery gifts. I would argue that all of us have been given this Spirit, and that in this era as we return to so many activities in the life of our church following the worst days of the Covid pandemic, this Spirit calls all of us to be part of the mission of the church. It is that Spirit led vision that takes Peter and others to proclaim this gospel message far and wide, it is that broader vision that encourages us all to look with confidence to the future of ministry in our circuit.
Here is a power that transforms our current life, allowing new life to emerge. Here is a power which enables people who were previously shy and withdrawn to witness and testify to the love of God. Here is a power that releases gifts that otherwise would remain unknown or unused. Here is a power that challenges faith that is self centred or private. Here is the Spirit of Jesus that knows no boundaries such as race, social class, language, gender or sexual orientation. This Spirit encourages us to use our God given gifts with wisdom and enthusiasm, and calls us to share this vision of the Kingdom of God with a world so desperately in need of the good news of Jesus Christ.
May the good Lord give us the wisdom to embrace and practice the gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives, this day and for evermore.