Pentecost

Dear People of Alnwick,

Some friends of mine recently had afternoon tea at the Ritz Hotel in London.  I suppose it’s just possible that I might have that experience one day – but it seems unlikely.  Let’s face it, some things in life are reserved for a select few, whilst the majority of us have to make do with less spectacular existences.

The people of the Old Testament believed that this was also true with regard to the Spirit of God.  They were convinced that it was a rare and special gift which only a privileged few would experience.

It seemed impossible that ‘ordinary folk’ could be filled with the Spirit.  Surely, they thought, such a gift was reserved for people like Samuel, Ezekiel or Isaiah – people of ‘Stature’.  They believed that, for the rank and file, God would always be one step removed – with access to him coming through priest and temple.  But let us just remind ourselves of one of the Pentecost readings from the Acts of the Apostles:

When the day of Pentecost dawned, they were gathered in one place.  Suddenly, a sound like the rush of a mighty wind came from heaven, filling the house where they were sitting.  After that, tongues of fire appeared that divided, so that a tongue rested on each of them.  The were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in various tongues, as the Spirit enabled them.  This is what was spoken of by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God declares, I will pour out my spirit on all people; your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions.  I will pour out my spirit even on male and female slaves in those days.’  (Acts 2: 1-4 & 16-18)

These words of Joel must have caused quite a stir when they were first heard because they suggested a completely new relationship between God and his people.

It is that type of relationship which is experienced by the Apostles on the day of Pentecost – and it is offered to each and every one of us in turn.  God is not remote and detached: he can be experienced as a living reality in our lives.  A reality which encourages, teaches, empowers and guides – ever at work within us.  The presence of God’s Holy Spirit within us is a priceless treasure – and he offers it to all, irrespective of our status in life!

As the feast of Pentecost draws near (8th June) it would do us all good to ask ourselves just how close we feel to God.  Are there times when he seems distant, removed from daily life?  And, if there are such times, have we done all we can to open our lives and let his Spirit in?  Remember, “I will pour out my spirit on all people”.

If we are prepared to open ourselves fully to the Holy Spirit we must expect surprises and be prepared to go with them for not only will we find our innermost needs met, we will find ourselves better equipped to serve God more fully and, perhaps, in ways that we had never dreamed of.

God’s Holy Spirit is yearning to work in all our lives; and through it we will find a deepening of faith, a strengthening of commitment and an enlarging vision of what we can do together as his people in this place.

O for a closer walk with God.
A calm and heavenly frame;
A light to shine upon the road
That leads me to the Lamb!

With every blessing at Pentecost and always,

Paul.

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