Summary: A sermon for Pentecost Sunday (preached the day after the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle) unpacking the gifts of prophecy, healing and tongues
Yesterday Bishop Michael Curry stole the show at the Royal Wedding - with the power of his sermon. Apparently according to the BBC there was an ipad in front of him but to the BBC’s astonishment he didn’t even refer to it. A friend commented to me that during the service the congregation were so secular that most of them just of them just mumbled the Lord’s Prayer - yet when Bishop Michael preached - he held the whole of the chapel spell bound. There was something about that sermon - because there was power in the preacher who preached it. Wouldn’t you like something of that power?
There was a young lady who worked in an enormous factory, one of the largest factories of its kind in the world. One day she confided to her pastor that she’d have to quit. What’s the matter? he asked. Doesn’t the factory have enough orders to keep you going? “No, it’s not that. They have more orders than they can fill, but they haven’t got enough electricity to keep all the machines going at once, and my machine has to be shut down part of the week. I lose so much time and pay. The trouble is that they have more machinery than power.”
That can happen to us, more machinery than power. We need power if we’re to deal with our lives so that we’re kept in the way that leads to life. We need power, power to make the changes necessary for us to be all God created us to be. (1)
Today is the day of Pentecost when the Apostles, Our lady, Jesus’s brothers and a number of other early Christians were gathered praying and power fell upon them in the person of the Holy Spirit.
“they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers….
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.(Acts 1:13-14, 2:1-2)
Imagine what it would be like to be there on that morning when that happened. Imagine!
People are speaking in tongues. Peter preaches about sons and daughters prophesying, young men seeing visions and old men dreaming dreams.
3000 people were converted in that day. And a church began in which gifts were poured out. Gifts of healing. Gifts of teaching. Gifts of preaching. Gifts of of prophesy. Gifts of power.
And that church has not gone away! There have been times down history when these gifts of the Spirit have been less common - but the Spirit has never stopped working. And times when people have turned back and asked for them these gifts have emerged in full force.
When John Wesley’s revival took place in the 18th century, such gifts began to re-emerge and certain people began to criticise - strange how when you do God’s work, some people will always criticise - Why were such gifts around now when they had not been around for 1600 years asked the critics.
Wesley replied “The reason why tongue speaking and similar gifts had disappeared, was that ‘dry, formal, orthodox men’ had begun to ‘ridicule’ such gifts because ...they themselves did not possess them."
Let me tell you something about God. There will always be new surprises he has in store for you. New gifts for you to exercise yourself and new gifts for you never to have but to witness powerfully at work.
As Christians we are like that woman in the factory. The job as a Christian seems enormous. There is so much work to do. There are thousands of people out there - just literally out there locally - who don’t know Jesus. Where do you and I start to reach them? Where do we find the energy to do what needs to be done? People are hungry for gospel, just like that lady’s factory that had no shortage of orders coming in. But it’s not enough just to have orders or even machines. We need power.
And when that power is offered - we can ridicule it like the “dry formal orthodox men” whom John Wesley speaks of. Or we can hunger for it.