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READINGS FOR WEEK COMMENCING 29th MAY
May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. (Psalm 20:4)
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17)
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)
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. 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? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God's deeds of power." All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" But others sneered and said, "They are filled with new wine." 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. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o'clock in the morning. No, 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. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord's great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'"
Gospel Reading John 20:19-23 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. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
The story of the first Christian Pentecost is told in Acts 2. The believers – not many of them, as they could all fit in one house – experienced a strong wind blowing through the place, they saw tongues of fire alighting on each one of them and they talked in 'other languages'. In the next section, where Peter speaks to the crowds from all over the known world, he appears to speak in just one language, but everyone understands what he says. This passage is loaded with symbolic meanings. One of them goes all the way back to one of the earliest chapters of the Bible, Genesis 11. That's where we read the story of the Tower of Babel: human beings decide to build a tower 'that reaches the sky, so that we can make a name for ourselves and not be scattered all over the earth'.
In the story, God stops the building, saying: 'Soon they will be able to do anything they want! Let us go down and mix up their language so that they will not understand one another'. In other words, their potential for boundless achievement is closed down because they no longer speak the same language. At Pentecost, though, this ancient limitation is reversed so that 'all of us hear them speaking in our own languages about the great things that God has done!' The Holy Spirit brings together Christians from different races, tribes, languages and nations and makes them into one people who speak the same language. All over the world, Christians are praying 'Thy Kingdom Come'. All over the world, we are praying to the same God in the name of his son Jesus Christ in the power of the same Holy Spirit.
The Spirit releases the boundless potential of human beings as God erases the barriers between us. Pentecost marks the beginning of a new way of living and working together for the glory of God. Question…. What potential lies dormant within you?
The steeples of Saint Mary’s and Saint Bartholomew’s.
Brothers and sisters in Christ praying for each other, our communities and our world. May God bless us all abundantly at this time.