Good morning folks,
How has your week been? For most of us it will be
‘pretty much as usual’ between isolating, distancing, sanitizing, sitting, eating, drinking, sleeping, and a few other things beside, it’s a wonder we have time to get bored! I guess much of it is a frame of mind.
I was speaking to an old pal of mine recently who I served with in the Royal Navy. He had been a Submariner and told me how he and his ship mates had often spent weeks, sometimes months at sea, only coming up for air every now and then. No ‘going up to the shops’, no ‘going for a walk or run in the park’ or sitting in the garden enjoying the sunshine. I suppose that is some pretty serious isolation!
At the heart of it is that we miss our freedom and family, friends
We hope and pray that when we do get our ‘freedom’ from lockdown, all the things that we once took for granted will now be, to us, that that bit more precious, cherished and appreciated.
Our lesson for today also talks about the joy of freedom.
But before that, let us pray ~
we remember this day, with awe and wonder, the events of that day of Pentecost long ago which so transformed the lives of the apostles.
We remember how in the space of a few moments their experience was revolutionised – their expectations turned upside down, their attitudes changed forever;
one moment consumed by fear, the next, radiating confidence; one moment uncertain of the future, the next, sure of their calling; one moment wrestling with doubt, the next full of faith;
one moment hiding behind locked doors, the next preaching boldly to the crowds.
All Loving God,
you came through your Spirit and life was never the same again.
Come to us, breathing new fire into our hearts, new energy into our lives, new life into our souls. Transform our fear, anxiety and doubt, filling us with confidence and faith. Move in us, we pray.
Open our minds to new horizons, new experiences and a new way of looking at life, and so may we live by the Spirit, bearing rich fruit to your glory.
we have rejoiced again today at the gift of your Spirit, the way you breathed new hope, new faith and new life into your people.
But we remember also that not everyone responded so gladly to the Spirit’s coming – from some there was scorn, ridicule and disbelief, suggestions that the apostles were drunk or even out of their minds.
Forgive us all the times we have not seen that which you make clear, open our eyes – open our hearts and open our lives to your Holy Spirit’s life-giving breath, so that we may live more truly as your people.
Lord, forgive us for the times when we have denied you before others – when we have not glorified your name or given you thanks you deserve, when things have turned out well for us. Forgive us for the times when we do not live according to your ways – doing, saying and thinking things which deny our very faith.
Hear us now as we sit for a few silent moments, each with our own thoughts and prayers –
………take a few silent moments to think of the things that are troubling you… – then whisper them to God….…..… He hears your prayers…..…
Lord we know that you hear us when we pray to you in faith – so hear us now as we say together – the prayer which brings us together as one family – the family prayer – the Lord’s prayer ~
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 debts as we forgive our debtors.. Lead us not into temptation.. But deliver us from evil .. For thine is the kingdom.. The power and the glory forever…. Amen.
Our first reading this morning is taken from the book of Acts – and it tells how the Holy Spirit came down and how it filled the disciples – giving them new powers – powers which they had never known before – it’s a pivotal passage in the history of our church.
Our second reading is an extract from Paul’s second letter to his young friend Timothy – and we hear Paul encouraging Timothy to continue the good work that Paul had started – that of building up and encouraging the new churches in the ‘spirit’ of Christ Jesus.
ACTS 2 : 1 – 13 & 2nd TIMOTHY 1 : 3 – 9
Let us read God’s word…
Acts 2 : 1 – 13 from the New International Version
The Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost
2 When the day of Pentecost came, the apostles were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,[b] 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs – we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!’ 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, ‘What does this mean?’
13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, ‘They have had too much wine.
(how did you get on with verses 9 – 10? J )
2ND TIMOTHY 1 : 3 – 9 from the The Living Bible
3 How I thank God for you, Timothy. I pray for you every day, and many times during the long nights I beg my God to bless you richly. He is my fathers’ God and mine, and my only purpose in life is to please him.
4 How I long to see you again. How happy I would be, for I remember your tears as we left each other.
5 I know how much you trust the Lord, just as your mother Eunice and your grandmother Lois do; and I feel sure you are still trusting him as much as ever.
6 This being so, I want to remind you to stir into flame the strength and boldness that is in you, that entered into you when I laid my hands upon your head and blessed you. 7 For the Holy Spirit, God’s gift, does not want you to be afraid of people, but to be wise and strong, and to love them and enjoy being with them.
8 If you will stir up this inner power, you will never be afraid to tell others about our Lord or to let them know that I am your friend even though I am here in jail for Christ’s sake. You will be ready to suffer with me for the Lord, for he will give you strength in suffering.
9 It is he who saved us and chose us for his holy work not because we deserved it but because that was his plan long before the world began—to show his love and kindness to us through Christ.
This is the Word of the Lord – thanks be to God
I wonder – have you ever stayed in the Ritz in London – or owned a Rolls Royce – or had a chat with the Queen over a cup of tea at Buckingham Palace ?
No, neither have I – and I doubt if very many of us have !
Some things in life – it seems – are reserved for the select few – while the majority of us have to make do with run-of-the-mill facilities and everyday services.
The people of the Old Testament believed that this was true of God.
They believed that they were too lowly, too insignificant to God – too unworthy to receive his blessings – that was just for the high and the holy – not people like them…or so they thought.
I suppose that belief is still with us today – with those people who feel uncomfortable taking Holy Communion – believing that the Lords Supper is only for the ‘holy’ people – not for people like them.
Of course that’s not true – and our first reading this morning – shows us just that – that God’s love, God’s provision, God’s Holy Spirit, is for all believers.
Not just for the “Holy Rollers” – but for the humble, everyday Christian who goes quietly about his or her work of sharing their faith through their everyday lives.
In the church where I am pleased to be acting as Locum at the moment – Kilmacolm Old Kirk – we would, under different circumstances, be celebrating Holy Communion today.
And we would use those very words when we share the ‘holy meal’– when the minster says ~ “this is the Lord’s table – open to all who love the Lord”.
Not just ‘holy people’ – but all people – all who love the Lord…
It is the day when the followers of Jesus (all those who loved the Lord) changed from being a group of disparate individuals who believed in Him – to a united group with a purpose – with a mission.
It is then, the forming of the very first Christian Church – and today we remember and celebrate that day.
And so today – the day of Pentecost – is the birth-day of the church – and many churches around the world would have been having a birthday party today.
It’s a day of celebration!
And the gift that those first apostles received on that day of Pentecost – the Holy Spirit – is a gift which is still offered to us today. To all those who ‘love the lord’.
Many see God as a distant or inaccessible God – but far from being remote or detached from us – in fact the very opposite is true ! –He can be experienced as a reality within the hearts and minds of each one of us…
We don’t need to be ‘mega – holy’ or ‘super – saints’ – just have a deep and genuine love of God, of Jesus.
Then His Holy Spirit will enter your heart – giving you powers you never thought possible.
And we heard about that in our second reading from Paul’s second letter to timothy.
God sent his Holy Spirit to empower us to do His work, here on earth…
Giving us the strength to speak out when once we would have said nothing.
Giving us the confidence to try things we would never have thought of trying – and the self-belief to succeed where once we might have failed.
As well as giving us the humility and tenderness to ‘love others as god loves us’.
You see – this whole ‘God – Jesus – Holy Spirit’ thing is about one thing – love.
Gods’ love for us and our love for him – and for others.
As the old song says – “What the world needs now is love sweet love..” How true that is – and that is just what God gives us.
No matter whether rich or poor – old or young. No matter the colour of our skin or the issues of our past – God carries us forward, wrapped in his ‘blanket of love’ – holding us, safe in ‘the palm of His hand’ the Bible tells us.
The people of the Old Testament didn’t believe that was possible – they thought God only had time for the “high heid yins” – and sadly many of those perpetuated that myth…. Setting themselves above others….
But they didn’t reckon with Jesus !
For it’s only through Jesus can we come to know his Holy Spirit – it’s only through Jesus that we can have the peace and confidence of knowing that God loves each one of us so much and so dearly, that he shares each moment of each day of our lives – through the ever-presence of the Holy Spirit.
It’s a wonderful thought – knowing that whoever we are – whatever we face – whatever road life takes us down – God will be there too – walking beside us in the sunny times – as well as holding our hand – talking words of comfort to us, as we pass through those dark, scary, “valley of the shadows” kind of days which put fear in our hearts.
He is there in our darkness – He watches over us as we sleep.
He is there in our happy times too – celebrating and enjoying our lives with us in sunnier times.
It was the Holy Spirit who took away the fear of those early disciples – and it was the Holy Spirit who strengthened their hearts as they set out on that journey of telling the Good News and making disciples of all people.
It’s a powerful text – with powerful language – conjuring up some powerful images.
But that shouldn’t surprise us – we’re talking powerfully elemental forces of nature – Earth, Wind and Fire ~ as God’s wind and fire are poured down – to us, here on earth.
It was this powerful force – that em-powered those frightened disciples into action – taking them out of the ‘safety-zone’ of that room and out into the streets –with confidence and self belief.
And so Pentecost is about empowerment – it’s about God giving us the gifts and the strength we need to do His work in the world around us where God is so often seen as irrelevant and ‘out of touch’ with this modern world of ours.
Have you opened your eyes to the living presence of his Holy Spirit in your life?
Have you opened your heart to the living ‘love bomb’ which is the Holy Spirit?
Have you even thought about all this before?
If you have then you will already know God’s love for you.
If you haven’t then you have a treat in store as you take the time – make the time – to explore this wonderful truth.
And so come to know the deep joy, deep peace and deep awareness that you are profoundly and completely loved to the very depths of your soul…..
There really is no other feeling like it.
Who wouldn’t want that, for themselves and their loved ones?
That’s what I pray for – that you will look a bit deeper into this whole business and find out for yourself.
Please don’t dismiss it as “Minister speak” – only relevant to a ‘holy huddle’ of people.
Make no mistake that these promises, these blessings are there for you.
So why not put your past behind you – and put your trust in the awesome God of the universe – and walk forward in faith – you’ll not regret it – and that is an absolute promise.
And that promise is made to you – in Jesus’ precious name.
May God bless this preaching of His holy word – and may all the glory and the praise – be His.
If we were sitting in Church right now – we’d be singing
MP 644– “The Spirit lives to set us free…” J
Let us pray ~
Dear and Gracious Lord, we thank you for your Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Jesus – a Spirit which you sent to all your followers so many years ago – that Holy Spirit which is still here for us today – for all who seek you.
We have heard how the Spirit came as wind and fire, free and irrepressible, coming to change the lives of many – and today we pray for all who long for change and for all who fear it.
We think of the poor and the hungry, the homeless and the refugee, the sick and the unemployed, the downtrodden and the oppressed —these, and so many others, who yearn for a new beginning, an opportunity to start afresh.
May their prayers be answered and their dreams realised.
We pray for those who see change as a threat – a sweeping-away of everything that is tried and trusted, and the imposition of unknown challenges and an uncertain future.
May they rest secure in the knowledge that, whatever else may change,
you will remain constant, as will your love and your care for us, your people, your church.
Holy Spirit, coming into our lives, gently as a dove,
we pray for all who long for peace,
and all who have lost sight of what peace really means.
We think of those in homes racked by tensions,
families, churches, split by petty disputes, communities scarred by prejudice and intolerance, and countries torn apart by war.
May dialogue triumph over confrontation, and unity replace division.
As you came at Pentecost, come into our lives again today.
Today we particularly pray for – the victims of conflict – whether in a foreign field or in our own homes. We pray for those who are oppressed and repressed – for those whose lives are being dominated by the will of others – and those for whom each new morning brings fear and dread of what new horrors it may bring.
May they discover the inner peace which you offer – may they know the love which you have for them – may they feel your arms around them as you breathe new life into them.
And we pray for those among us who are still afflicted/effected – by the loss of a loved one – may they know our love and care for them – may they know your comforting hand – Lord, bless all who mourn, we pray.……………….
And we pray for those who are touched by CV19 virus – and we pray for the ‘frontliners’ who put themselves in dangerous situation so that we might be kept safe. Watch over them, we pray, keep then safe, Bless their families too.
And today we particularly pray for –
…take a few moment to think of someone you know who needs a prayer at this time…and whisper their name(s)..
Listening Lord, hear our prayer – and hear us now as we sit together for a few moments silence – each with our own thoughts, each with our own prayer for those we know and love………..
Lord hear our prayers – both spoken and silent – for we bring them to you in the name of the one who makes promises to us – and keeps those promises – our Dear, precious Saviour – Jesus Christ.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK~
There’s a story about a burglar who broke into a house one dark night.
Just as he was about to climb the stairs – he heard a voice saying “ Jesus is watching you!”.
He flashed his torch around but could see nothing. So as took another step – aging he heard a voice saying – “ Jesus is watching you!”….. Beginning to panic – he threw caution to the wind and switched on the hall light – only to see a parrot in a cage saying “ Jesus is watching you!”.
Relived that it was only a Parrot – he went over to the cage and said “and who might you be?” “my name’s Polly” said the Parrot…. “that’s a daft name for a Parrot the burglar said – “maybe it is” said the parrot “but then Jesus is a daft name for a Rotweiller !” And then, in a corner – the burglar saw a pair of red eyes gleaming in the dark……
Jesus is watching you – he is watching all of us… watching to see if we are fulfilling the purpose for which we were made………
You were created for a purpose – and you have an assurance that you have the wonderful love of Jesus with you, through His Holy Spirit, as you travel along life’s road seeking – searching for your true purpose in life…
Some already know what God wants them to do –
But if you’re still not sure – ask God –
Think about it, pray about it and then set about it – and one day – you too will know the joy of being received in to those Heaven Gates and hear those wonderful words –
“Well done thou good and faithful servant – enter now into the Kingdom of Heaven”
And that is a promise – in Jesus’ name.
Food for thought for us all……..
May the God of grace breathe
Health into your body,
Love into your heart,
Peace into your mind,
and Joy into your spirit.
With your lives filled to overflowing, and be poured out in His service –
And may the blessing of Almighty God – Father- Son – and Holy Spirit – be with you all – may He be with your families and friends and all who you know and love – and ought to love – this day and everyday.
May God Bless you and those you love.
Having read all this, can I suggest that you go back and read the first Reading from Acts again – it might make more sense now!
Then take time to think it all through.
If you have any questions or queries why not get in touch? – email or private message me or by any means.
I don’t have all the answers, but I can do my best to clear any issues you may have.