Summary: A simple message about Pentecost used at Women’s fellowship’s & shorter Holy Communion services.
If only one of us could win the lottery!
Imagine how much better your life would be. You would have the power to control your own destiny, at least that’s what the nice people at the National Lottery believe. If only because just think of all the things you could buy – new house, car - & I hope some would come our way! Just imagine what we could accomplish with more cash, if money was no object for you & your family.
The early church must had some "If only" moments too, but their dreams & hopes weren’t about money or premises or new premises or staff & the like. This unlikely group of nobodies on that first Pentecost were gathered & full of fear & hopes & dreams. Fears about what would happen next to them; worried about when the knock would come at the door to arrest them for their new found faith. Hopes & dreams about what the future without Jesus could possibly look like.
I should say one of the biggest ‘If only’ moments they had was ‘if only’ Jesus hadn’t left us. Then God came among them & upon them & all these ‘if only’s’ vanished.
Pentecost is when the power came upon the disciples & that same power remains for us today.
Jesus said to the disciples "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you" but I wonder what kind of power they were expecting. Most often when we think of power we think of those who rule over us – either with or without our consent. But this power wasn’t a power to rule or lord it over others, instead the power received was a power to live for Christ & witness to Christ.
These men & women huddled together, locked away & terrified were engulfed that first Pentecost by the Holy Spirit. Acts tells us that suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, that filled the entire house where they were & what seemed to be tongues as of fire rested on each one of them. The Spirit came so that they could accomplish all that Jesus had called them to do when He sent them out at the end of Matthew’s gospel to be witness in all the world. It is very important to notice that all of them were filled with the Spirit, not just the leaders but all.
The power of this infilling is obvious; just compare the effect on these simple folk. Instead of being locked away they were shouting literally from the rooftops. Instead of being lost for words these ordinary people suddenly could speak words that convicted 3000 or more men, & heaven knows how many women & young people, so profoundly that they were born again.
I believe that is still what God seeks to do through us this in the wake of the blessing of Pentecost. You see when the Holy Spirit fills a human heart with His power & presence He generates the passion to live for Jesus & the courage & power to carry out Christ’s command to be witnesses to God’s grace & love.
How that is needed in today’s Church here as much as elsewhere – a passion for Jesus name & a passion to be witnesses to Jesus to our community & to our generation. Pentecost gives us that voice & then pushes us over the edge to speak. The truth is that without God’s infilling we will never have the right words to share or the confidence to speak.
The Gospel of Jesus, by its very nature, cannot & will not be confined to a cuddly, safe, insulated environment where we just huddle up and enjoy the love of God while others perish without. We can never just sit & enjoy our faith without being used personally for the good of the Kingdom. We have to move in His name. Move to be good news people who meet the needs of others & share our faith.
This Church that God has constructing & blessed us with here will not be the catalyst for growth. It is only a suite of buildings, & no sanctuary or building ever brought a soul into the Kingdom of God. What we need is the Holy Spirit to come so that we might be all we are supposed to be.
Pentecost is about the power to live & witness then; a witness that does not come from us. I hope & pray that together we would be a people filled & empowered by the Spirit of the Living God for the good of this community. Do spend some time these next few days asking God to fill you personally that you may be overflowing with love & His witnesses not in Judea & Jerusalem, but Sutton Coldfield & Birmingham & beyond.
For Jesus sake – Amen.