Acts 2.1-21 
Psalm 104.26-36,37b 
1 Corinthians 12.3b-13 
John 20.19-23


Happy Pentecost!

Today we celebrate the birthday of the church. It was the Holy Spirit that brought the church into being. More than that, we celebrate what gives us all life, because it is through the Holy Spirit breathing life into us that we are alive. 

It is by God's wind – Spirit – that wind that brooded over the face of the waters, as we read in the book of Genesis. It is by God's wind, God's spirit, that the world and humanity are created and continually sustained. Psalm 104 expresses it well. It says “When you hide your face they are dismayed, when you take away their breath they die and return to the dust. When you send forth the spirit, they are created and you renew the face of the earth.” 

So the Holy Spirit is everything – everything in life – without it without the continual action of the Holy Spirit we would be dead. There is so much for which to give thanks. But of course the Spirit has much more to give than life. It has new life to give. “Wait in the city,” Jesus says to his disciples before he ascends into heaven, “until you are clothed with power from on high.” 

It is the Holy Spirit that brings the church to life, creates the church and continually renews it. As Patriarch Athenagoras of the Greek Orthodox put it, “Without the Holy Spirit, God is far away, Christ remains a figure of the past, the gospel a dead letter, the church a mere organisation, authority a means to exercise power, mission a propaganda machine; worship becomes outdated and morality the action of slaves.” 

Yes. The Holy Spirit breathes life into us, breathes life into the church. And at the moment, I believe that God is doing a new thing. It's not true to say that God wills this pandemic upon us – this coronavirus. But it is true to say that God is bringing new life out of it. Right at the heart of the Christian faith is that wonderful mysterious truth, that God brings good out of bad, just as he brought resurrection out of crucifixion. And the Holy Spirit is continually bringing good out of bad.

So we see around us a renewed interest in spirituality, in the things of the Spirit. We see people reassessing their lives, working out for themselves with the help of the Spirit what is really important. We experience new and imaginative ways of communities coming together. As Her Majesty the Queen memorably put it, “our streets are not empty, they are filled with love.” As the Prime Minister remarkably put it: it’s love that powers the NHS. And of course more than anything else the Spirit brings and spreads love.

That's the power from on high with which we are clothed by the Holy Spirit: the love of God which is the greatest power in all creation, helping us to receive and spread God’s love, helping us to share that love with one another – particularly those who are most lost – those who are at the margins, those who are neglected and forgotten, lonely and afraid.

So today we celebrate the Spirit that gives us life, the Spirit that gives birth to the church, the Spirit that renews the face of the earth; and we pray that in the power of that same Spirit we may be instruments of God’s peace and love and truth and glory and beauty. 

Happy Pentecost!

Page last updated: 27th May 2020 2:19 PM
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