Summary: Some reflections on Pentecost
11-05-08 UW 8.30
What can we learn from the Experience of Pentecost?
A parishioner called his vicar up, very angry on a Monday morning.
” Rector”, He said “I tried to get you on Friday but you weren’t in”.
“It was my day off “the vicar replied.
“Day off”, the parishioner stormed, ”the Devil never has a day off. “
“Well, if I didn’t have a day off” the vicar rejoined “I’d be just like him!”
There is so much to do in the Church that we are in danger of burning out – if we try to do it in our own strength.
There are, in my opinion, only three major celebrations in the Church Year.
1. Christmas when we celebrate the Birth of Christ
2. Easter when we celebrate the Death and Resurrection of Christ and
3. Pentecost (or Whitsun - for the Anglicans!!) when we celebrate the birth and spectacular growth of the Early Church as recorded in our reading this morning from the Acts of the Apostles
You might be wondering – how on earth can this spectacular Event have given birth to the Church?
So what was this event at Pentecost in AD 29 or 30 all about?
It might help to start with considering what PENTECOST was.
Pentecost was the second major festival of the Jewish year – after Passover.
(And you will recall what significant event occurred at Passover that year – the Death and Resurrection of Jesus)
The name was derived from the Greek Pentecostos meaning 50 and was fifty days after the Passover.
It was the time of offering the first fruits of the Wheat Harvest to God.
Question: But you might still ask – well how does Acts 2 have anything to do with the birth of the Church?
Jesus gave his Church one Great Commission in
Mt. 28:19 just before he left this earth at Ascension.
He told them “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations baptising them in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
It must have been very daunting to the disciples.
For the first disciples, Peter James and John and the others, they had probably never been outside Israel.,
How on earth were they to get the Gospel to “the ends of the earth.”
Yet Jesus gave them very clear instructions how they were to go about it. In Acts 1 He said
But you shall receive Power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be my witnessses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1 v.8)
In other words, Jesus himself would enable them to fulfill the Great Commission – how by giving them the Power of the Holy Spirit
In our reading from the Book of Acts today, we can see three principles for success in growing the Church.
1. The disciples obeyed Jesus
2. They needed the Power from on high
3. They earthed their message in God’s word
1. The first principle for success was that the disciples obeyed Jesus
Why, in Acts 1:8 were they told to wait before bearing witness to the Resurrection of Jesus?
Simply because Jesus said so.
If we are going to be servants of Christ, we have to learn to do WHAT he tells us to do.
Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until power from on high comes upon them.
So what did they do?
They spent their time in prayer – in anticipation. In Acts 1:14 we read:
“They all joined together, constantly in prayer”
They got ready for action. Prayer is the power house of the Christian life.
That is why we have set up the Thursday morning prayer meeting in Frisby
Prayer is the preparation for everything that we wish to do in Christ. It puts us in touch with HQ – with our Commander in Chief.
2. The second principle for success was the gift of the Holy Spirit – the Power from on high needed to preach the Gospel.
God asks us to be willing – but we don’t have to preach the Gosepl in our own strength.
The Church isn’t our worry – it’s God’s worry.
Maddy has a wonderful expression when I worry:
“Why pray when you can worry!!”
If we are going to do God’s work, we need to do it in HIS strength and not our own.
The Acts 2 experience made the disciples changed people.
Let us look at the change that happened in Peter.
i) Before the Acts 2 Experience
I am sure you all recall how Peter denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed twice: One of these denials was recorded in Luke as follows: