In the absence of regular services in Church, James Campbell is contacting regular members of the congregation with access to email:
a) 'Mid-Week Bulletin' - on Wednesdays
b) 'Sunday Worship @ Home' - on Saturdays for use the following day.
If you would like to receive these directly but don't at present, please contact do him
SUNDAY WORSHIP at HOME: 31st May 2020
Pentecost (Whit Sunday)
THE COLLECT (BCP)
God, who as at this time didst teach the hearts of thy faithful people, by the sending to them the light of thy 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 liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
BIBLE READING: Acts 2: 1 - 21 / 41
31 May SW@H – Pentecost: Acts 2:1-21 (or read on to v. 41)
Today is Pentecost, when we remember the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Early Church described by Luke in Acts 2. Some will know today better as Whit Sunday, so called because of its association with the white robes of baptism.
If Pentecost means anything to most people today, they probably associate it with Pentecostalism and a more exuberant expression of Christian experience and practice, not typically Anglican, and possibly involving dancing, waving of arms and speaking in tongues.
However, all of us who are Christians derive the meaning and purpose of our faith from the coming of the Holy Spirit at that first Pentecost.
For the first century Jew, Pentecost was the 50th day after the Passover. It was an agricultural festival when farmers brought the first sheaf of wheat from the crop and offered it to God – partly in gratitude and partly as a prayer that the rest of the crop would be safely gathered in. The festivals of Passover and Pentecost also awakened echoes of that great story that dominated the Jewish history – the Exodus from Egypt when God rescued his people.
The account of Pentecost set out in Acts Ch. 2 is, of course, full of unexplained happenings; it was the best the author could manage – a sound like the blowing of a violent wind; what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and rested on each of them; the speaking in other tongues. These were supernatural events not easily capable of being articulated.
Rather than dwelling too much on what happened or didn’t happen that day, it is more instructive to note the effect that the coming of the Holy Spirit had. Such was the change in the disciples, that Peter had to assure the astonished onlookers that they weren’t drunk – that it was only 9 o’clock in the morning.
It was Peter too who proceeded to deliver that extraordinary sermon recorded later in Acts 2. In v. 38 he challenged his hearers to ‘Repent and believe, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’. And we read that 3,000 people became Christians the day: an astonishing number. We don’t know how many the Church numbered at that time – but it was probably more like hundreds rather than thousands.
Earlier Jesus had said that he wouldn’t leave his followers alone when he left them - he would send them his Holy Spirit; and not just that first generation of Christians, but every subsequent generation of Christians. For the presence of the Holy Spirit is God’s means of enabling Christians to do God’s work on earth in the absence of Jesus.
Every Christian’s experience of the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in their lives differs considerably. Billy Bray was a miner from Cornwall born in 1794. He was an alcoholic and was always getting involved in fights and arguments at home. At the age of 29 he became an active Christian. He went home and told his wife, “You will never see me drunk again, by the help of the Lord” – and she never did. The Holy Spirit enabled him to go on and have a highly effective preaching ministry amongst mining community in the South-West and beyond.
For most of us, the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives is less dramatic.
God’s Holy Spirit is available to every Christian. Old gas boilers had a pilot light which was on all the time even when the boiler was not in action. The Holy Spirit is present in every Christian. For some the Spirit’s activity in their lives is more akin to merely the pilot light being on, rather than the boiler firing on all cylinders. The presence of the Holy Spirit changed Peter and the early believers completely; and he has the potential to change each one of us for the better, too.
As Edwin Hatch put it in the hymn he wrote in 1878, ‘Breathe on me breath of God, fill me with life anew; that I may love what thou dost love, and do what thou wouldst do.’ Amen.
For those children who are returning to school tomorrow and those whose parents have decided that they should continue to stay at home; as well as young people using resources online as they study from home; for parents, for patience and ingenuity as they oversee these new ways of working.
For restraint and common sense as the additional lifting of restrictions come into force amidst continuing good weather.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit. May our lives reflect something of your glory as we seek to live out the Fruits of the Spirit in displaying the qualities of love, joy and peace, patience, kindness and goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in all our relationships; for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen. (based on Galatians 5:22-23)
THE LORD’S PRAYER & THE GRACE
Strengthen us, we beseech thee, O Lord, with the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, and daily increase in us thy manifold gifts of grace: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength; the spirit of knowledge and true godliness; and fill us, O Lord, with the spirit of thy holy fear, now and for ever. Amen. (adapted from BCP)
The Rectory, Withyham TN7 4BA