Genesis 11:1-9 Psalm 104:25-35, 37b
Acts 2:1-21 John 14:8-17, 25-27
May these words and our thoughts be acceptable to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
In the Beginning when we were in the Garden of Eden God told us not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, because we would then be tempted to gorge on the Fruit of the Tree of Life too. Why would God be so restrictive, aren’t we destined for eternal life ? Well I think it was because we would be immortal and we would be tempted to Evil. For our own good then God kicked us out of the Garden so that we could learn the lessons of life and be governed by our own mortality, and then be ready to live forever. As Samuel Johnson said ‘Nothing focuses the mind like one’s impending death’. So here in the humdrum of life we are to be shaped into better human beings and fit eventually for eternal life. But after a while, as usual, we got a bit too big for our breeches and thought it would be a good idea to build a tower right up to heaven so that we could walk and talk directly with God again; a kind of a cross between Jack and the Beanstalk and the Bahj Dubai. We were able to get started because we used our ingenuity, but attempting to be like God was evidence that we weren’t really listening to the lesson in the Garden. So God took us down a peg or too by confusing our languages. But now that we have Google translate and as English is becoming the common tongue what do you think God has in mind for us next ?
Well let’s go back to the Day of Pentecost and even further still to Christmas and the Incarnation. The plan has always been that we will eventually live in Paradise eternally but we have to be ready. So we have traipsed about all over the Earth and learnt lots of lessons, we are getting closer. But to move things along God came to Earth in the Person of Jesus and He taught us a whole bunch more and at the same time removed the barriers we had created to our own Redemption, our path to Heaven.
John the Baptist through the ritual of baptism helped us understand just what we needed to do, and we have put those things into our baptismal vows.
Because Jesus had a human body He could not live forever in it, nor can we. So He promised to send God’s Holy Spirit to us after His death, which He did on this day, Pentecost, and the Holy Spirit continues to guide us in our daily lives, our thoughts and our actions.
Receiving the Holy Spirit is a blessing of baptism too; when we are washed physically clean by water, we are washed spiritually clean by the Holy Spirit at the same time.
Can you imagine that first Pentecost though ? The disciples were inside a house, no doubt trying to be quiet at what they were doing, so they wouldn’t disturb the neighbours when a wind arose in the house and the noise like a tornado escaped the windows and doors and got everyone’s attention – neighbours and people just passing by in the street. It sounds as though they rushed into the street partly to escape the hubbub and partly to share what had happened with anyone who would listen. And listen they did in their own languages. A miracle !
Pentecost is a Jewish feast, the Feast of Weeks, seven weeks and one day after Passover, that celebrates God giving the Law, the Ten Commandments, to Moses. / So like Passover it attracted a wide range of visitors to Jerusalem. It sounds like there was a lot of partying going on at this time because the disciples were accused of being drunk at nine in the morning. A side bar, I hope our new liquor licensing laws don’t lead to the same problem here. Of course that was a silly accusation because someone else being drunk doesn’t improve my abilities in any way, especially when it comes to hearing what is said. And Peter doesn’t hesitate to say so. He was seeing things starting to come together. Jesus had told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, had come to them and now He had. This was a time of elation especially for Peter his confidence was boosted and it showed. Those people who heard Peter left Jerusalem after the festival and went back to their home towns and spread the Word there. What a day to be a Christian !
And being a Christian means what ? Jesus tells us today. It means believing that Jesus is God; that God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are One; that Jesus speaks for God, as God; that we must follow Jesus’ teaching; that we too can work miracles; that our prayers will be answered; that we will be inspired by the Holy Spirit; that we will have peace of mind because our actions will be righteous; and last, that whatever life throws at us we will not be afraid, all because the Holy Spirit will be our Comforter.
Life, energised by the Holy Spirit, is quite different from the usual day-to-day, I pray that you experience it. Like Peter suddenly confidence runs through your veins especially when talking about your belief. You may even be confident enough to mention Jesus by name in conversation with friends, family and strangers. Life in the Spirit is a new life. People may think you are a little strange at first, the way the people of Jerusalem did the disciples, but like them they may very well say “You know what ? This sounds like the truth !” And it will be and others will be saved. And wouldn’t that be good ? It’s our mission folks. Amen.