Acts 2, 1-4
Something to read
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.
New Revised Standard Version
To read the King James Version, click here
Something to think about
Jesus’ words that when two or three are gathered in his name he will be there (Matthew 18:20), are often repeated by Christians as they meet to pray. But just imagine the scene in Acts 2 for a moment - because this is a prayer meeting with a difference... Into the huddled group of followers comes a ‘sound like the rush of violent wind’, the appearance of ‘divided tongues, as if of fire’ and a miracle of communication.
Today is Pentecost Sunday; familiar as this passage might be, let’s consider some of the remarkable hallmarks of the Holy Spirit’s work on display here.
Firstly there is power - visible signs of the kingdom breaking through in the natural. Secondly, there is unity. Jesus’ followers are all gathered in the same place, and everyone present experiences the same thing. And thirdly, there is co-operation amongst Jesus’ followers with his purposes and plans. In Acts 1 Jesus told the disciples not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the advocate. Acts 2 tells us of their obedience, as well as God’s fulfilled promise.
Whatever our church background, today is an important day to stop and remember the gift of the Holy Spirit to us.
If we’re honest we sometimes deny the power of God to transform hearts and situations, finding it easier to accept the status quo – however wrong we know it is. When we are faced with suffering, poverty, war and pain, there is a temptation to despair, or to submit to a belief that this is how the world will always be.
When we examine our hearts and our churches, we are also reminded that doctrines about the Holy Spirit are one of the things we have allowed to divide us.
Perhaps it is time again to stop, to stand together, and to wait. Maybe we need to take some time today to put aside our rights, prejudices, and desire to forge on with our own plans – and instead to focus on Jesus alone. Perhaps if we, as his people, humble ourselves and pray together, he will come through the gift of his Holy Spirit, and heal our hearts, our churches, and our world as we partner with him.
Something to do
Take a moment to consider the range of churches and Christians in Britain and Ireland today, especially those near where you live, or known to you personally. Ask God to help you see whether there is anyone you need to forgive, make peace with, or apologise to. Whether that is the case or not, are there any proactive steps you could take to help build unity with Christians from other denominations and styles of worship?
Something to pray
Lord Jesus, open my heart to receive your Spirit anew, and to welcome, and partner with you in your work.
I long for your power to come and transform the world;
I am sorry where I have given up on seeing the things that break your heart turned around –
Come now and give me the courage to believe, and act, for real and lasting change.
Holy Spirit, I need your power if I am to build unity
In my church and beyond.
Come now, and bring your love, joy and peace into my heart.
Father God, I want to partner with your purposes, rather than pursuing my own.
Help me to wait, expectant as a child, for you to come and reveal your will today, and every day, as I submit to you for the glory of your name.
Today’s contributor is Liz Baddaley, a former staff member, and continuing volunteer, for Christian Aid. She is a worship leader, song-writer and freelance writer and editor specialising in Bible study and worship resources for charities. She is also the co-founder of www.thesanctuarycentre.org