Last Sunday, 31 May was “Pentecost Sunday”. On this day the Church celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit to his people and the Church reaching out to people with the message of the Gospel. This is celebrated five Sundays after Easter, roughly the same amount of time as the Scriptures teach that Jesus had been with his followers after his resurrection and then ascension.  

Pentecost was a Jewish harvest festival, and it was on this day that the disciples, Mary and many other followers of Jesus, gathered to meet and pray. Jesus had told them to wait in Jerusalem for the Spirit, and on this Pentecost festival, God wondrously sends him. This is how Luke, the author of the Gospel of Luke, records this event in the book of Acts: 

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.” (Acts 2:1-6) 

At first, those in the street who see these followers of Jesus speaking in different languages, who they recognise, think that they are crazy, that they must be drunk! Understandably, they are wondering what this all means? Maybe even some of Jesus’ followers were wondering what this all meant? The Apostle Peter then comes forward and gives what is the first recorded Christian homily, proclaiming the Good News of Jesus. 

But what is the significance of all this? What is so important about Pentecost and what does it all mean? Peter quotes the Prophet Joel, who says that in the last days God will send his Spirit. The Prophet Ezekiel also said: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26). God has sent his Spirit to be with us, to comfort us, to guide us, and to give us a new heart. To give us a heart that knows and loves God and the mercy he has shown us through Jesus. 

On this day of Pentecost, one of the greatest miracles on this day is not just that the Spirit descends on the believers, or that they begin speaking different languages. It is the response of those who hear and respond to this message of Jesus. Those who hear this message are “cut to the heart”, some who may have been there when Jesus was executed! They accepted this message and were baptised, with a number of 3000 believing!  

Pentecost is a reminder to us, not only of the great comfort and gift of the Holy Spirit but the call to go out and boldly proclaim the hope that we have. With the Spirit with us, we have the power to do incredible things. Not all of us will be a Peter, standing up in a crowd. But God can, and will, use every one of us to do good things.  

Let us give thanks, as we celebrate the Church and God’s goodness and gifts to his people!   

Mr Patrick Fabian 

Director of Faith & Ministry