The Day of Pentecost was the day that the apostles left The Upper Room. They had been waiting hidden away for 10 days doing what Jesus had told them to do – to ‘wait for the gift my father promised’ (Acts 1:4). Then the Feast of Pentecost came, and with it the promised gift: ‘They were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force – no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then like, wild-fire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them’ (Acts 2:1-4 The Message). And out they went on to the streets, most probably up to the steps of the temple where Peter preached his first sermon (Acts 2:14-41). It was the time to go public.
This was the apostle’s experience at Pentecost, and it transformed their lives. In the space of a few moments their outlook was revolutionised, their expectations turned upside down, their attitudes changed forever; one moment uncertain of the future, the next sure of their calling; one moment wrestling with doubt, the next full of faith; one moment hiding behind locked doors, the next preaching boldly to the crowds. Then, as now, they were met with scorn and ridicule with suggestions that they were drunk or out of their minds. Then, as now, they were met with disbelief and suspicion. People could not understand what was going on and would rather not even try. But others were also amazed and astonished, and they had a huge impact on the people around them. This power was not only for personal renewal, a greater intimacy with God, a greater love, joy, peace, etc (see the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22) all of which are vitally important and deepen our relationship with God but primarily this gift was power for them to witness to the wonders of God to the ends of the earth (see Acts 1:8).
We too are called to be witnesses and if we love Jesus we will obey what he commands (John 14:15). The wonderful thing is that God still pours his Spirit on his church in Pentecostal power today – which is a good thing because we need it! It is time for us to go public. May the Holy Spirit spread through our ranks so that we too can declare the wonders of God wherever he takes us and to whomsoever we meet even during lockdown and perhaps even more so post lockdown!
Samuel Chadwick (1860-1932) was a Methodist Minister from Burnley, Lancashire. This is his testimony: ‘Twelve of us began to pray in a band and the answer came … God led us to Pentecost. The key to all my life is in that experience. It awakened my mind as well as cleansed my heart. It gave me a new joy and a new power, a new love and a new compassion. It gave me a new Bible and a new message. Above all else it gave me a new intimacy in the communion and ministry of prayer; it taught me to pray in the Spirit.’
Samuel Chadwick’s experience can be ours. No more hiding away in The Upper Room (spiritually speaking) but out there serving the Lord, making a difference, making an impact on those around us and changing the world for the better in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit fulfil in me the work begun by Jesus.
Invigorate my work, subdue my pride and raise me to wonder.
Shower your gifts upon your people:
gifts of wisdom and understanding;
gifts of healing and practical help;
gifts of speech and heartfelt tears;
gifts of love which bind us together in peace.
God whose breath gives energy for struggle,
set us free to grow as the children of God:
open our ears that we may hear the weeping of the world;
open our mouths that we may be as voice for the voiceless;
open our eyes that we may discern your ways;
open our hearts that we may bring faith to life.
Spirit of God,
Among the corridors of power, renew the face of the earth
Among the wheels of industry, renew the face of the earth.
Among the crime-infested neighbourhoods, renew the face of the earth.
Among the oppressors and the abusers, renew the face of the earth.
Among the marginalised and the exploited, renew the face of the earth.
Among the hopeless and the disillusioned, renew the face of the earth.
Among the poor and the dispossessed, renew the face of the earth.
Among the fractious and broken families, renew the face of the earth.
Among the lonely and the sick, renew the face of the earth.
We pray in Jesus’s name. Amen.