Sunday 15th

PENTECOST

1ST  SERMON               MORNING PRAYER                 Preacher:     Carol Shelley

 Acts 2 v 1- 12,
John 14 v 8- 17, 25- 27

 

As we sit here this morning, I would like you all to lose yourselves from being in Christ Church and try to imagine yourselves in the upper room, of our reading from Acts.

The only thing that remains a constant is that you are with friends and people of like minds.

This is your only security.

It is seven weeks since your friend and teacher was crucified on a cross.

You may be one of those that in the last few weeks have been fortunate enough to witness his brief presence, but now following his ascension, you are apparently without him.

It is another Jewish festival the “Feast of Weeks” which is basically Jewish Harvest Festival, but the presence of so many strangers once more in Jerusalem only heightens your insecurity and brings back memories of the Passover weekend.

Do you feel isolated or are you desperately mulling over many of Jesus’ words which may bring you comfort?

Jesus repeatedly tried to prepare his followers for what he was to experience; Jesus gave those followers and particularly the disciples, knowledge and encouragement for their lives without himself.

Still here they were together, afraid and not knowing what actions they might take. Not knowing what actions they were expected to take.

Out of nowhere comes this perhaps slightly alarming experience; which they quickly welcomed and understood. Tongues of flame, flames that were the outward sign of a new strength.

They were filled with the Holy Spirit.

 

Can you empathise with this experience?

Has life ever presented you with a challenge where you felt completely inadequate? Which to your amazement you have actually responded to and coped with very well; you may have even achieved far more than you ever thought possible.

Was this a Holy Spirit moment?

The Holy Spirit is most frequently sort for strength and guidance but another term used in the past was “the Comforter”.

 

Have you ever known directly the presence of the Holy Spirit, guiding what you have said or done?

Have you ever thought “Where did those words come from?”

Certainly most preachers will say that they have known times when despite their very best efforts, a sermon that they perceived as being a bit dull, suddenly came alive.

Equally they have known times when someone actually tells them of their response to what has been said and they are aware of the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit.

 

Another name for the Feast of Weeks is the Days of the First Fruits.

How apt for those first disciples  who on this one weekend brought 3000 men, women and children to faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God.

It was truly an amazing harvest.

There is a direct lesson from their experience for each one of us.

 God rarely brings people to faith from his own direct actions, it is with his power in those with faith, through which most new Christians come to know Jesus.

Making each one of us very important in the life of the church.

 

All of us have been present when volunteers are requested for tasks.

Frequently we hold back, not because we do not want the work, but because we feel the task is too difficult – beyond our capabilities.

Yet if we step forward do we not usually succeed?

Why is this?

If we accept the task, if we volunteer, it is in faith we accept the challenge.

We succeed because we have found new depths to our abilities, God has provided what we need.

We should always remember God knows us better than we know ourselves.

 

Jesus makes this clear in today’s Gospel reading as he speaks to the disciples.

“If you love me, you will obey what I command”

“I will ask the Father and he will give you another Counsellor – the spirit of truth”

“The Holy Spirit will teach you all things and will remind you of all I have said to you.”

 

Why do we hesitate with such a promise before us?

Pentecost is a moment when just like the early disciples we all should look into our hearts and ask not only what our faith brings to us, but what our faith will ask of us.

 

Can we individually face the challenges that life will inevitably put before us – we should accept and realise, we can cope in faith?

Will we take the challenges of new paths because God, directs a new way for us; relying on our faith and the Holy Spirit for our success?

 

God alone knows the path for our lives, we cannot know the way but we can prepare ourselves.

We can recognise our strengths and our weakness’.

Where we see weakness we can pray for change; for the strength, guidance and comfort of the Holy Spirit.

 

In faith we must accept changes in our lives.

Equally, in faith, we will face moments of challenge or discomfort, with which we must deal.

We must accept God’s challenge that the future of our church is in our hands.

 

The presence of the Holy Spirit doesn’t take away our free will; the decisions are still ours. However, the Spirit will encourage us to have a go; and then gives us the extra strength and confidence to move forward hopefully succeeding with something we didn’t feel was possible.

 

These statements take us directly back to the upper room moments for the disciples.

This is exactly their challenge 2000 years ago.

Like them we should welcome the presence of the Holy Spirit, but best of all through the presence of the Holy Spirit remember Jesus’ words:-

“Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”

“Peace I leave with you: my peace I give you”.

 

Here on Pentecost is the revelation for our faith and our future. Amen