Sunday 9th June 2019
DAY OF PENTECOST
So the church goes to the nations today. Still Jews, but from 17 nations and we know where that leads (153 fish!).
To us who act as if we, our institutions and traditions, are the centre of it all, the mystery of this chapter should shake us up. From there being 17 (17 times 3 times 3 is 153) nations to the two sets of 444 syllables in Luke’s summary of Peter’s outburst (https://www.psephizo.com/biblical-studies/the-many-meanings-of-pentecost/) spelling Jesus in Greek!
For me I see the story as being the fulfilment of the story of the return of the glory to the temple. The temple is now found in the church, Children of God who are lead by the Spirit of God. The fact that we are looking at a day that celebrated the first fruits and the giving of the law, completes the significance for me. And yes, there is Joel’s prophecy and the new creation breath of the Spirit that heals the dividing of the languages at the tower of Babel.
So much to meditate on.
We had visitors today. One who walked in off the street responding to the invitation of the sign outside and two who were flying through from Rwanda.
From Rwanda we learned that the Churches there are thriving. The government imposed a rule that church buildings had to be safe places to be and have appropriate sanitation. As a result, 6000 closed. What to do? Our visitors spoke of Discipleship for Development in Rwanda (http://www.disciplingfordevelopment.org/) where the moto is to know Christ and make him known. Discipleship for Development answered the question: what do you do to form the church if, in your nation, any gathering might be considered seditious and there are many needs? This is where the Bible gives a blueprint; you find the people of peace amongst the local leaders and you form discipleship groups around community goals for peace and wellbeing to bless the whole community.
Basically, you take seriously the message that in Christ we are to be a blessing and trust that all who call out shall be saved. The wisdom is to seek God’s Kingdom, trusting all we ask will be given to us to fulfil the mission.
In our mission we need to be faithful in our call and trust God who comes to fulfil his promise and form the church with a breath of fire. The church needs the skills and blessings of our communities, but she is not formed by these and we should be careful she does not come to depend on them or worse still become ruled by them. The splendour of the church is the fire of the Spirit not the Health and Safety policy.
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place…All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation … each one heard them speaking in the native language of each…All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” Peter lifted up his voice… ‘I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy…everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.…When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground. …Bless the LORD, O my soul. Praise the LORD!
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God…
John 14:8-17, (25-27)
…Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
This resource is an offering from The Vanderbilt Divinity Library at: http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu. New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings copyright © Consultation on Common Texts admin. Augsburg Fortress. Reproduced by permission.
As God leads, let us be constant in our prayer for
· The Church;
· Creation, human society, those in authority;
· The local community;
· Those who suffer;
· Our community.
We meet at the chapel on a Wednesday evening at 8pm until 8-40pm for a period of prayer including 20 minutes silent prayer during school term time.
Photo by Michał Grabolus on Unsplash