Pentecost 31st May 2020
Our Service today marks the day that ends the Easter season and the birth of the Church here on earth. Today nearly 2000 years ago on this day the Holy Spirit was poured out on all flesh, it is indeed a day of great celebration.
May you all know the Spirit’s breath, and life within you this day, in a new and powerful way.
Our reading from the book of Acts reminds us that people had gathered in Jerusalem for a festival.
If you go back and read the Old Testament, you will discover that Pentecost was just one of the Jewish feast days, only they didn't call it Pentecost, that’s the Greek name.
The Jews called it the Feast of Harvest or the Feast of Weeks. It is mentioned five places in the first five books — in Exodus 23, Exodus 24, Leviticus 16, Numbers 28, and Deuteronomy 16.
It was the celebration of the beginning of the early wheat harvest.
In Palestine, there were two harvests each year.
• The early harvest came during the months of May and June.
• The final harvest came in the Autumn.
There were also several festivals, celebrations, or observances that took place before Pentecost.
There was Passover, there was Unleavened Bread, and there was the Feast of First-fruits.
The Feast of First-fruits was the celebration of the beginning of the Barley harvest.
Here's the way you figured out the date of Pentecost.
According to the Old Testament, you would go to the day of the celebration of First-fruits, and beginning with that day, you would count off 50 days. The fiftieth day would be the Day of Pentecost.
So First-fruits is the beginning of the Barley harvest and Pentecost the celebration of the beginning of the Wheat harvest.
Since it was always 50 days after First-fruits, and since 50 days equals seven weeks, it always came a "week of weeks" later.
Why have I told you that? Well it may be good for a quiz question!
But more importantly it tells you that there are times and seasons in our life that we need to attend to. Upon reflection we (I) could say that our life before the Covid 19 virus had become one constant, high pressured way of living, work, rest and play where words we used, but rarely experienced.
Pre lockdown we were always busy, with things to do and places to be and people to meet, we could pretty much do as we wanted, when we wanted and go anywhere we wanted.
Life for most in the western world was good, we were living the dream.
One thing this virus has done is to pause our way of life, it has caused us to do is to think about how, why, what and where we do things.
People are calling it a reset, a time to take stock, think again about what life is all about.
Let’s go back tot our harvesting analogy - What are the steps of harvesting?
1. Sowing - preparing the group for the seed to be planted.
2. Reaping - cutting the mature panicles and straw above ground.
3. Threshing - separating the paddy grain from the rest of cut crop.
4. Storing - sett aside to produce food to sustain us.
Let me ask you a couple of questions;
Where would you say our lives are at now?
Are we reaping what we have sowed?
Can I suggest we are being threshed, a time when our lives are being taken up off the field of life and there is a separation of the wheat from the tares.
A time for us to separate that which is good and life giving from the bad, life draining, soul destroying things in our lives.
At this time of Pentecost, when we celebrate that the Spirit gave birth to a movement and a moment that shaped our world. We need to revisit, recall and re-envision ourselves, our communities and our nation(s) as to the true meaning of life and living a life before God with fear and trembling.
These are momentous days for us all, a time when we need to call upon the Holy Spirit, who is our guiding force, to help us share the good news of Jesus Christ, our risen and ascended Lord.
He is our comforter, healer and friend who lives within us and we feel his strength at times of distress. The Holy Spirit is the joy giver, enabling us to be exuberant and full of life.
Friends at this time of Pentecost, at this feast of weeks, this first harvest, may I ask you to consider,
Where is your life at?
What needs clearing out of your life the clutter and the chaos?
What needs to be Threshed and taken to one side and burnt?