The Stodden Churches

Reflection for Pentecost

Pentecost is often seen as the birthday of the Church as it marks the day when Jesus kept his promise that he made both before his resurrection, and after, that he would send his disciples his Holy Spirit to go and be his Church.

Unless I go away the Counsellor with not come to you, but if I go, I will send him to you…When he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. (Jesus from John 16:7)

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Jesus from Acts 1).

That moment comes when the promised Spirit comes upon those first followers of Jesus and they are emboldened to push out from their comfort zone, which was the room where they met; a place that would feel safe because it was anonymous and they could close the doors and know that all the faces they saw were familiar. From that safe place those first Christians on that first Pentecost, were pushed out by the bold-making Holy Spirit, first into the streets of Jerusalem, where only weeks before Jesus had walked to his very public execution, and then on and out into countries around the Mediterranean. So within a couple of decades the Church has reached Rome, the heart of the Roman Empire, and even into the Imperial household.

That boldness that was poured into the hearts of those first followers of Jesus through his promised Holy Spirit changed these timid Christians who felt safe within their carefully planned comfort zone into adventurous and daring proclaimers of the good news of Jesus Christ; which is the dynamic love of God revealed to us in the Crucified Risen Christ.

It is that change from timidity and safety into boldness and risk that marks Pentecost and that is why it is so often seen as the Church’s birth date. But Pentecost Sunday is more than just looking back to the Church’s birthday it is a day that is about “now” as much as the past. For Jesus intended the gift of his Spirit to be for the church for all time, otherwise after that first generation of Christians the Church would have gradually faded away as the first enthusiasm for the Risen Jesus faded from the memory. Jesus said to his disciples in his last teaching before his death; “When the Counsellor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.” (John 15:26)

The Holy Spirit is still gifted to us by Jesus from God the Father today as then, and his purpose is still to take the church from feeling safe and familiar within itself into being bold and adventurous, becoming daring proclaimers of the good news of Jesus Christ.

If the Church is not bold in the way it lives and proclaims the good news of Jesus then it will not grow, and eventually it will wither and die. Boldness is a key quality for the Church in all times; that is the lesson for the Church today from its Pentecostal birthday.

As we celebrate this Pentecostal birthday as lockdowns are beginning to be eased, as more and more of us are vaccinated, we are faced with a moment like those early church members on that first Pentecost. We have been keeping the church going in our ZOOM equivalent of the safe room, with a toe dipped in the water of going out with the Gospel by keeping our 9.00am live service going. But the time is coming for boldness as the Government’s Road Map passes its mileposts; we have one more to go on the 21st June where we hopefully will see most restrictions fall away as the country has more and more people vaccinated. We now need to be bold like the early church, becoming adventurous proclaimers of the good news of Jesus Christ; ready to take risks, ready to stand up and be counted for Jesus.

Let each of us make it our personal prayer that each of us maybe be filled and emboldened through Jesus’ promised Holy Spirit, and that our Church, members of the JPCC and PCCs, maybe be filled and emboldened by the Holy Spirit so they may be the Peters, James’ and John’s, and Marys’ that our church needs in this generation to move forward and build better.

A prayer: Faithful Father God, who fulfilled the promises of Easter by sending us your Holy Spirit and opening to every race and nation the way of life eternal; fill our hearts and minds by your Spirit that we may become bold in telling of your glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

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