Feast of Pentecost
24th May 2020
Rev David Osborn speaks on the Feast of Pentecost, 31st of May 2020.
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Feast of Pentecost
You may have already heard our choir singing on VE Day ( if you didn’t, you can catch up on
the podcast here) but if you have you may wonder, just how was this done?
One answer might be that it was complete magic; the more prosaic answer is that each singer
recorded his or her part and the recordings were edited together. So something apparently
disparate and distanced, when assembled turned into something beautiful and memorable.
Pentecost works in a similar way. When you first look at the events of the first Pentecost what
you see is a disjointed and disorganised group of people, struggling to come to terms with a
new world order – one they didn’t expect, one they didn’t want and certainly didn’t welcome.
Yet by the end of that day, the first birthday of the Christian church, these people become
transformed, changed. They have a purpose, they have a vision, they have hope. The arrival of
the Holy Spirit unites them and at the same time galvanises them into action.
If you think about it, within 40 years this fledgling faith has spread across the Middle East,
through Asia Minor, into Europe, along the north African coast, through the major cosmopolitan
centres of the world, arriving ultimately into the greatest city of them all, Rome.
All set in train by the arrival of the holy spirit, as a gift, promised by our Lord to his followers
firstly prior to his death and secondly during his appearances to them after Easter Day.
The gift of the holy spirit seems an odd one; an advocate.(for whom ?) a comforter (again for
whom?) a very strange and surreal entity which even in the 21st century sits ill at ease with
many good people of faith. God we can respect, Jesus we can relate to, but the Holy Spirit?
Perhaps a bridge too far for most. Sitting there once a year like other slightly uncomfortable
occasions such as Michael and All Angels – parked for the rest of the calendar in the ‘bit too
OK so at this point you will expect me to encourage you, inspire you, enthuse you even, with the
holy spirit, but I won’t – I will let the holy spirit do that work itself, for that’s its reason for being.
What I would do is to support you in being open to new ways of expressing our faith. Whilst
retaining the more familiar, a blend of old and new, Ancient and Modern so to speak.
We have had to adapt to many new things over the past couple of months – with, and let’s be
honest, varying degrees of success. But adapt we have and this should encourage us, for it’s
not true that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, because you can and we’ve learned and we
have grown and we have flourished.
And we should all be proud of ourselves, for if we can do this in the difficult times we will be able
to do this in the easier time as well – and as people of faith we have the added bonus of our
Lord God coming amongst us as a spiritual presence.
So that’s Pentecost – not quite done and dusted – but at least acknowledged, thought about,
and prayed about. If nothing else, it’s a pretty good start and a great way to prepare ourselves
for the most challenging Sunday of the year, Trinity Sunday – only seven days away, much to
the chagrin and despair of every preacher in the world.....
(See why next week, same place, same time..............)
A reading from the Acts of the Apostles chapter 2 verses 1-13
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. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on
each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages,
as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven
living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each
one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked,
‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our
own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and
Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging
to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs – in our own
languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’ All were amazed and
perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ But others sneered and said, ‘They
are filled with new wine.’
Prayer for today the Feast of Pentecost
God, who as at this time taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of
your Holy Spirit: grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgement in all things and evermore
to rejoice in his holy comfort; through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour, who is alive and
reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour Christ has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come; thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the
kingdom, the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.