Sunday 4th June was the day we celebrated the Day of Pentecost – the Holy Spirit coming into the hearts of all believers. As we live our daily lives in 21st Century London & the UK focuses on the atrocities last night at London Bridge, the General Election this week & Brexit to follow, what does Pentecost really mean to us today?
Well, this is where being part of God’s family really helps! It is so easy to spend every minute of our days focused on the ‘here and now’, perhaps with an occasional glance at eternal realities, if at all! But the bible tells us that we will only reach our full potential as humans and spiritual beings, by having much bigger horizons than that!
Joel reminds us in our Old Testament reading tonight of the bigger context in which we live! Written around 600 BC his themes were:-
- The ‘Day of the Lord’
- God dwelling in the midst of his people.
Our New Testament reading from Acts was written some 700 years later & it is the Old Testament Prophet Joel that its author, Luke, chose to quote to describe the events of Pentecost. Some 2000 years on it is these same scriptures and truths that are the focus of Christian Church across the world today. I am quite sure our Election and Brexit will have long been confined to the dusty journals of history in 2000 years’ time! It is the truths of Easter & Pentecost that will determine our eternal destiny, not the 2017 General Election or Brexit!
Winston Churchill once said ‘Every now and then humans stumble upon the truth. The trouble is most of the time they pick themselves & walk away as though nothing has happened’! Let that not be our experience of Pentecost this year – let us take to heart its eternal truths & the life changing power of the Holy Spirit that is here for us to day!
So let’s look closer at the eternal truths of Pentecost that Joel prophesied & Luke recounted! So to the first of these:-
- ‘The Day of the Lord’.
Joel was clear that there are wrong & right paths that God’s people can follow & that ultimately we will be accountable to God for this. Judgement is not a something that makes us feel comfortable these days. But let us not forget that the rule of law that our society depends on, relies on such a system. But fortunately with our God, alongside ‘judgement’, there is ‘deliverance’. Whilst Joel talks about instances of judgement & punishment by God, he also recounts many instances of deliverance & intervention by God to protect and guide us. This leads on to his second theme:-
God knows only too well that we are far from perfect! He has a deep & enduring love & mercy for His people. What He asks of us is not just ‘torn garments’ but ‘torn hearts’, that is not just words of confession, but a genuine change of heart. It is then that Joel says judgement is averted, restoration occurs & blessing beyond our imagination follows, leading to the third outcome:-
- God dwelling in the midst of His people.
Joel brings these 3 themes together with the promise of the future out pouring of the Holy Spirit, the ultimate ‘dwelling’ of God with His people. As Luke describes in Acts, this prophecy was dramatically fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. Importantly, we see clearly the giving of the Spirit across all boundaries of gender, generation, social class & nationality. That amazing power of the Spirit is available to us today in our Daily lives. I hope you will agree that is far more exciting & worthy of our attention than the General Election or Brexit!
So let us make this Pentecost a time to:-
- renew our commitment to the path God offers us
- repent of our erring’s from His ways &
- experience the full blessing of His presence with us through the Spirit.
*Taken from Colin’s Reflection at Evening Prayer on Whit Sunday 4th June 2017.