What were you waiting for?
Were you hoping
he'd come back,
hoping that this
would end as the
first one had?
…and how did you pray,
could you pray?
weren't your minds
awash with questions,
weren't your hearts
still badly torn?
What were you expecting
as you gathered
waiting on his promise?
I would like to ask the disciples some questions; I am fed up with the faith filled sermons that abound at this time of year. I doubt that the disciples were filled with faith, their friend, Jesus had just left them for the second time, and although this leaving was not a death as such, and nor did it carry with it the horrors of the cross, he was GONE, and they were alone again! Alone and waiting….
I am sure that they didn't know what to expect, and I am sure that their minds were full of questions… lets consider Thomas, he'd been incredulous when it came to believing the resurrection, not happy until he had seen and touched Jesus… what were his questions now?
How about Peter, Peter whose denial although forgiven would always be a part of him, bringing a new humility, and an awareness of his frailty, how did he pray as he waited? Did his heart ache for Jesus presence, did he long simply to be with his friend?
I do believe that the disciples would have been filled with a cautious hope, hope as the Apostle Paul reminds us; "…does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." During Jesus ministry he spoke to the disciples about the Holy Spirit, calling her the comforter, the guide, the teacher, he breathed awakening into the disciples, calling them to receive the Holy Spirit, preparing them, wooing them if you like for what was to come.
And so let us take a journey, let's travel through time today to join the disciples at that first Pentecost, and as we do so we may take with us our questions, our grief's, our sorrows, but let us not forget to take our hope…
Hope that God the Holy Spirit will meet us here…
Hope not in wind and fire, but in the love and power of God…
I told the story of Pentecost to a group of Primary School children two weeks ago, and we had great fun with the images of fire and wind, and then as the room quietened for me to carry on with the story one young boy breathed out in an awe filled voice "wow, fire"….
It was a holy moment, and one that I don't want to forget, for it seemed as if the fire had moved from being outside of him to being something that lit his soul. That I believe is what happened to the disciples, I told the children to imagine what it would be like of the love and power of God were to fill them up; from their feet, from the tips of their toes, right up to and spilling out of their heads, and not one part of them was not filled with the love of God….
I was telling a story, but that simple meditation had a profound effect upon me as I imagined along with the children what it was to be filled to overflowing with the love and power of God.
Fire and wind are wonderful symbols, and glorious signs of God's presence, but the love of God is what makes the difference….
The love of God is what made a difference to John Wesley, who famously declared his heart to have been strangely warmed….
It was the love of God that sent that group of first disciples out into Jerusalem, early that Pentecost morning, the love of God spilling from their hearts, minds and souls, the love of God compelling them and propelling them out….
Timidity was gone, and for now, their questions were set aside as they rejoiced in the fullness of God, and revelled in the love-making presence of the Spirit….
The Holy Spirit had come, and they were filled up with her. The whole Church is founded upon the experience of the Holy Spirits presence and power to transform, right through history fresh moves of the Spirit have been recorded. But perhaps a more compelling and insistent truth has been the love-making, love creating, love empowering presence of the Spirit deep down in the everyday, ordinary stuff of our lives.
And so as we heard the story of that first Pentecost today, let us remember that the coming of the Holy Spirit was not a one of event set far back in history, an event to be remembered fondly each year and then set aside until the next…
As Jesus breathed over the disciples, inviting them to receive the Holy Spirit, so he is breathing over us now, and we have not been commanded to wait as they were for the Spirit has given herself to the Church, to dwell in and through and amongst us… and so as you listen in a few moments time to the Taize Chant Veni Sancte Spiritus, where the words include; "Come, Holy Spirit, send forth the heavenly radiance of your light" and:
"Wash that which is unclean,
water that which is dry,
heal that which is wounded.
Bend that which is inflexible,
warm that which is chilled,
make right that which is wrong.
Imagine if you can the love of God, filling you right from the tips of your toes, and infusing every part of your being until it spills out and overflows….
This overflowing, out pouring is the gift of the Holy Spirit, poured out upon the church, upon us and into our lives day by day. This is God with us, this is love.