Sunday 23 May 2010

Bible Book:

"When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 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 ... At this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speak in the native language of each." (v.1-2, 6)

Acts 2:1-11 Sunday 23 May 2010


The Holy Spirit's arrival at Pentecost is not a private event -it simultaneously involves a public venue and publicaccountability.

The disciples find themselves out on the streets of Jerusalem, inthe presence of Jews "from every nation under heaven". And how thestreets of Jerusalem would have thronged as the pilgrims celebratedPentecost - the great Jewish festival which was observed 50 daysafter Passover (commemorating the freeing of the Israelites fromEgypt - Exodus 12). The pilgrims had come from all overthe known world to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem and they hadstayed on for the 50 days.

Pentecost is usually identified with the Feast of Weeks of Exodus23:16. Although originally an agricultural festival, by thetime that the Gospel-writer Luke was composing his book, the Feastof Weeks had come to be a commemoration of the giving of the TenCommandments to Moses (Exodus20). In the Jewish rabbinic tradition, at the giving of theLaw, all the nations of the world were offered an opportunity toaccept God's revelation. According to the Jewish philosopher Philoit was accompanied by signs of fire and spirit!

Likewise with the descending Spirit of Pentecost, the gospel (goodnews of Jesus) announced by the disciples is universal; it is heardby representatives of the whole world and is accompanied by signsof fire and wind. The miraculous events prompted a dividedresponse, as gospel proclamations continue to do. Some observerswere "amazed and astonished" at what it might mean, while othersoffered the more pedestrian interpretation that the believers weredrunk. Into such a context, the Apostle Peter speaks of the mightydeeds of God.

To Ponder

The arrival of the Spirit is not a private event,but simultaneously involves a public venue and publicaccountability. Think about what this says about the Church'srelationship with the wider world. To what extent must the Church'sministry in the community, as part of our Spirit-led mission, standup to the scrutiny of the world at large?

How do we, as people of faith, engage inconversation with our communities on spiritual things? How do we,like Peter, speak of the mighty deeds of God to a largelydisinterested society? Have you tried it? What happened?

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