Sunday

27 May 2012

"When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in oneplace. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting." (vv. 1-2)

Background

Can you imagine the excitement as the planning and logistics swung into action? Pentecost was here! This annual harvest festival gave Jews the opportunity to give thanks to God for providing for them. With all the deep significance and gratitude that would be a part of such an event, this was not a sombre occasion; neither was it a private event for a select few. This was a time for all to celebrate, and to celebrate together.

Does Pentecost sound like a special bank holiday? It was more than that. This feast had purpose and profile, and enough of a 'wow' factor to bring people back home to be part of it. It was a time to remember and rejoice, and what better way to do that than with people who shared such a rich history and heritage. This really was everybody's party and on this occasion it seemed like everybody had turned up!

In all of the usual excitement and the general hubbub, today's passage tells us what happened when the unexpected took place. In Acts 1, the disciples had been told by Jesus to wait in Jerusalem. They were clearly doing so, but even they weren't expecting what happened next. A sound like a rushing wind brought something promised, which seemed to defy logic. It brought something powerful, yet so accessible that it was in danger of being misunderstood. It brought something purposeful, and the diversity of people gathered together heard people of a different background and custom speaking clearly and confidently in languages that they had neither learned nor studied. The Holy Spirit had arrived and was being demonstrated through conversation. To the listening groups gathered to celebrate God's provision, this was both amazing and confusing.

Peter did his best to explain this phenomenon, first by giving the assurance that his friends were not under the influence of a mind-altering substance, and then (in verses 19-21) by citing the prophetic words of Joel (Joel 2:28-32), whose work the audience would have been familiar with, but may have forgotten. The Holy Spirit was here, connecting with and communicating through those who dared to wait, even in the routine of everyday life.

To Ponder

How do you respond when unexpected but amazing things happen?

What do you think the promise, power and purpose of the Holy Spirit looks like today?

How do you share what God has done with people of different backgrounds?

Bible notes author: The Revd Katei Kirby

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