Introduction, Readings and Blessing for Pentecost Sunday
Today we celebrate the feast of Pentecost, when those early followers of Jesus were filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered to go out and live out the Gospel of Christ.
As we celebrate the transformation that took place in them, we open our lives to the presence of God’s Holy Spirit among us and pray that our world, our church, and our lives may be touched, and set on fire, with that same Spirit.
A reading from Acts Chapter 2
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. 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. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? How is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?
Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them:
"Let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. This is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
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. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Hear the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to St John
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." After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again:
"Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you."
When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.
This is the Gospel of the Lord.
May God breathe upon us his Holy and Life giving Spirit
that we may be transformed and empowered by his Sacred Presence.
And may the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit
Be with us, our community, and all for whom we are called to pray
This day and always. Amen.
Reflection for Pentecost
Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees takes off his shoes.
These are lines from Elizabeth Browning’s epic poem: Aurora Leigh.
I have pondered them a lot during the last couple of months and have been dying to share them in one capacity or another but I have held off because they cry out Pentecost to me, and so now seems the time to bring them to your attention.
I only came across this verse quite recently and cannot stop returning to it. Watching spring and early summer unfold in recent weeks in the parks, woods, and gardens around us has felt like a Pentecost. God’s Holy Spirit emerging and crying out to us in creation, in nature; revealing the presence and goodness and wisdom of the Creator.
It made me wonder, at what point in the church’s development did we begin to associate the Holy
Spirit merely with the human race? After all, all the early symbols used to describe God’s Holy Spirit as non-human: Fire, heavenly doves, wind or breath, water, oil, first-fruits, wine -
and yet we talk mainly about the Holy Spirit as a gift given to human kind.
Genesis tells us that the Spirit of God brooded on the waters at the very beginning of creation.
God’s Holy Spirit is the means of life and was present in God’s beautiful world long before we came along! So while this incredible feast reminds us that God’s Holy Spirit is alive in you and me, it also reminds us that it is alive in the whole of God’s creation.
The Holy Spirit is a reminder once again that humanity is not the “be all and end all” of this life;
that we are part of something much bigger and wonderful than we can ever imagine.
Our role, our first and foremost ministry, as Christians, as human beings,
is to recognise, celebrate and honour God’s Holy and Life Giving Spirit, at the very heart of creation, at the very heart of life – and to serve God there in simple humble ways.
Those early disciples, when they first discovered and experienced this explosive energy of God
in the universe and in themselves, were empowered to preach the Gospel from the rooftops.
May we too recognise that same Spirit all around us – and within ourselves, and allow it to empower us in our daily lives
For as Elizabeth Browning said:
“Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God.”
May we take off our shoes and worship - for we walk each moment in the Holy Presence of God. God’s explosive energy is right beneath our feet, in the very breath we breathe, in each and every moment of life. Our ministry, and whole purpose in life, is simply to recognise it and live from it.