Church of England Diocese of Birmingham St. Matthew with St. Chad, Smethwick

Pentecost

31 May 2020, midnight

Sunday Readings from Lectionary: Acts 2v1-21; Psalm 104v25-35&37; 1Corinthians 12v3b-13; John20v19-23

Let us pray: Dear God, may we hear what you are saying to us today. Amen

A sermon from Lucy: Today’s psalm reminds me that the whole of creation is God’s and that we are called to sing a song of praise to God for the whole of creation. A song of praise because creation exists in and for God. A song of praise because creation is cared for by God. A song of praise because God’s spirit is at work in creation. But today’s readings tell me something more of God’s power at work in the world. Let me explain:

In the Gospel, we hear about a resurrection appearance by Jesus. He appeared to His terrified disciples who were hiding in a locked room. He greeted them with a word of His Peace and showed them His hands and His side. Then Jesus commissioned them to continue His Father’s work and empowered them by breathing out the Holy Spirit upon them and giving them authority to either forgive or to retain sins.

In the Book of Acts, we hear about the day of Pentecost when the disciples were all together in one place in Jerusalem. This was an amazing supernatural event that took place at about 9 in the morning. There was a sound, like that of a rushing and violent wind, coming from heaven. It filled the house where the disciples were sitting and something that looked like tongues of fire appeared amongst them and rested on each of them. Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages. This event was so powerful that Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem came and gathered to find out what was happening. Many of them were amazed, astonished and bewildered because each of them could hear the disciples speaking about God and His deeds of power in their own native languages. Others were more cynical, sneering and saying that they must be drunk on new wine. However, undeterred by this, Peter got up and explained that this event had been foreseen and prophesied by the prophet Joel: a great and glorious day when God would pour out His spirit on all people and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord would be saved. A prophecy that Peter believed was being fulfilled on this day of Pentecost.

Later, in the life of the Church that was born at Pentecost, Paul wrote to the people in Corinth about the Holy Spirit. Paul said that no one is able to truthfully declare that “Jesus is Lord” without having the Holy Spirit. Paul said that the same Spirit brings, gives and activates God’s people through gifts; and each person is allotted a gift to fulfil a variety of service in which all gifts are to be used in the best interests of all, to serve the common good, in the service of God. Paul also taught that, by the Spirit everyone is baptised into the Body of Christ and the gifts we are given by the Spirit are granted to us so we can use them within the Body of Christ. Paul believed that all gifts have a place – no matter what they are or who we are who have them.

So what have I learnt from all of this? Well today, I believe that each one of us is being called to take stock of the gifts that God has given us through the Holy Spirit and to take the risk of offering them to God for God to use in His service. So, as I end today, I simply leave you with two questions: what is your gift and how will you use it?

Let us pray: Eternal God, send us the Holy Spirit to enlighten us, to teach us and to guide us; so we may tell out your opening of the way of eternal life for people of all races and nations; so that everyone may join in telling others of your glory. AMEN