St. Mary's Church

Pentecost Sunday

Pentecost Sunday

30 May 2020 • General news

Acts 2. 1-21

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

2 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 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. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.”

12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

Peter Addresses the Crowd

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.
18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
20 The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

1 Corinthians 12. 3b-13

3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

One Body with Many Members

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

John 20. 19-23

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Thoughts for Pentecost Sunday

Our Gospel passage this morning is part of the story of the disciples in the upper room on that first Easter Day “when the doors were locked, for fear of the Jews...” and Jesus comes in and blesses them, completely unexpectedly.

I have preached on the story of “doubting Thomas” several times over the years, but I have never previously noticed that when Jesus appears to the disciples on that first Easter Day, he gifts them with the Holy Spirit, by breathing on them and by impressing on them that they have the authority to both forgive sin – and not to forgive sin.

It also struck me, when I was re-reading our Gospel passage for today, how we so often skip over these few verses, to instead focus on Thomas Didymus and his declaration of faith in Jesus - “My LORD and my God”.

I have read these passages over and over during my life -and yet sometimes, even now - I can still discover some new insight, or a few words that I had not fully grasped the meaning of before.

For several years now, I have occasionally used the technique known as Lectio Divina for my personal bible study - where you read a passage slowly two or three times and then allow yourself to imagine the scene - to imagine yourself within that scene, and just to spend time, being part of that story. Usually I use a piece from the Gospels, but I have used other books in the Bible too. It is always interesting to see what fresh perspective or insight I might receive.

During this time of lockdown, when I was furloughed for several weeks, I was trying to practice this technique almost daily - often using the Psalms of David as they offered me a chance both to lament and to praise God – to be thankful that whatever our situation, we are not alone: God is faithful in being alongside us in both our joy and our pain.

As we celebrate Pentecost, I encourage you all to spend time reading and re-reading either our Gospel reading or the account from Acts chapter 2. Visualise yourself in the scene, that you are yourself being gifted that flame of the Holy Spirit as it spreads from person to person, and to cherish and nurture that close relationship of the Spirit being one with you as we go through the week to a Trinity Sunday next weekend, where we focus on God as three aspects - Father, Son and Spirit.


Prayers for Pentecost

Glorious Trinity,
Make your presence known in this place,
through our worship, our prayer,
the reading of your Word.
Father, Son, Holy Spirit,
within whose unity lies all that is you,
perfect love, justice, peace, and power.
As we gather here today,
your body, your church, throughout this world,
fill our outstretched hearts with your spirit,
encircle us with your love.
Make yourself known to us in new ways,
exciting ways, challenging ways.
Empower us,
Inspire us,
Glorious Trinity!

Spirit of life
ALL: Fill our emptiness with your fullness
Spirit of power
ALL: Stir our hearts afresh
Spirit of love
ALL: Touch us, and through us, our neighbour
Spirit of Creativity
ALL: Enable and empower the gifts you have given
Spirit of Eternity
ALL: Draw us ever deeper into your Kingdom

Collect from the Book of Common Prayer

Almighty God, who on this day
didst open the way of eternal life
to every race and nation
by the promised gift of thy Holy Spirit:
Shed abroad this gift throughout the world
by the preaching of the Gospel,
that it may reach to the ends of the earth;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth
with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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