It’s here we have finally got to this point in this great arc of a story. It started many weeks ago with LENT followed by the arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension and finally we are here at Pentecost.
The arrival of the Holy Spirit. The birth of the modern church as we know it. It is the Churches birthday! [SLIDE]
As we have just heard He came with a bang
The roaring of a mighty windstorm and tongues of fire.
For the disciples who had probably just woken up had moved to the lounge to have a prayer meeting this must have been particularly shocking for them. The next paragraph lands it saying that it is 9 o’clock in the morning. Of course they cannot be drunk ….. it is so early.
Only following God’s time could it be that the start of the New Testament Church the birth of Jesus’s bride starts at 9AM. People are only just waking up and clearly not at their best.
If it had been left to the disciples or, dare I say it, us today to pick a time I think we would have gone for about 7.30 8pm. We would have got ourselves ready, probably had a prayer session, done a bit of singing, powerful preaching etc. We would have spent two days making sure the church was looking its best, were the flowers arranged properly, and more importantly do we have enough Quiche and Shloer [SLIDE].
We would have made sure that everybody was ready and built ourselves up to it.
The people running the show would have been going around with clip boards and lists making sure everything was right. No hang on Holy Spirit please wait at the door for 5 minutes we need to make sure child A is in the right place we are at the right point in the song and everybody is sat down in their allocated seats.
But NO Jesus doesn’t care what pomp and ceremony we put on it he just simply arrives with a bang when they were least expecting it.
Jesus will come in his own time and probably when we are least expecting it. We need to be ready for him all the time for him to arrive in HIS own time.
I have always wondered what the time between the Resurrection and Pentecost. What must it have felt like for those on the ground particularly the disciples? They had lived through momentous times. Gods son was on the move – their whole lives had been ripped apart and they had followed him blindly across the countryside seeing the best and the worst. The highs and the lows of humanity.
These were young men some of whom had just been fisherman the lowest of the community and frankly they had bumbled their way along following Jesus….
We have heard what happened at the crucifixion, the lights went out, the earth shook, the heart of the temple was ripped in two and dead bodies came back to life. Pretty much everything they knew had been changed. Their ordinary lives had become extraordinary lives overnight and then it had been ripped away with a massive bang.
So they went back to what they knew best fishing. SLIDE
But no not for our poor fishermen the disciples – Jesus wasn’t done with them yet!
Come on get back to work boys I haven’t done with you yet – get yourselves over to Jerusalem. There is more to come.
Their lives were thrown again into limbo – go to Jerusalem and wait. But the trouble was they didn’t know how long they would have to wait for and they didn’t really know what they were waiting for – they just had to wait. SLIDE
SIT DOWN AND WAIT
How long would we be prepared to wait?
Are we patient enough to wait?
We expect everything to be done NOW NOW NOW – could we actually wait?
Before we had mobile phones, we used to be so much better at planning and waiting. We sorted out a time to meet and roughly where to meet and we did it without the need to know exactly where we are. How many times have you watching people walking around on their mobiles going SLIDE
Hello …yes ….. yes I am here where are you?…… oh you are there – yes I can see you. You are over there [wave] come on have some patience. Wait in peace!
I can remember a friend of mine meeting his girlfriend in a pub being absolutely livid as she had made him wait over 2 hours on his own in a place and a town that he didn’t know. He didn’t have a phone to call or check with her. He knew she was coming and she did. He just had a long wait for her.
Alas he wasn’t very patient but fortunately he was in a place that offered entertainment on tap at 95p a pint! She got there in the end but just at her own time I think he can remember her arriving!
But the Holy Spirit did come and from that point on everything was changed. He bought gifts of the spirit and those gifts are for everyone. From that day forward everything is changed God no longer just speaks to us just though the prophets, high priests or Jesus. He comes down on all of us and gives us all the gifts of the spirit. The curtain was split in two the barrier was broken and he is here for all of us today and every day. Amen!
Barriers of communication are broken down between tribes. We can all speak and listen to each other.
Other gifts were the power of speech and of great oration. Peter spoke and 3000 people became Christians. Peter’s transformation, whilst not quite as impressive as Paul’s, is big.
A teenage fisherman who had probably only spent time taking to fish up until a couple of years ago was now speaking to thousands of people. 3000 people turned to Christ what an impression he must have had on them. SLIDE
What did he say? What did he preach on?
That is the kind of sermon we need preaching here on a Sunday morning.
That is like preaching in the town square of Wiveliscombe and the entire population of Wivey and the Hills turns and follows you. That is a miracle!
But he doesn’t always come with a bang!
Many people here will know that we enjoy going to Spring Harvest every year for our jab in the arm of extra Holy Spirit, excellent preaching and worship. SLIDE
In some ways, it like a vaccination before you go to a dangerous country. You get a vaccination of faith and spirituality before we go out into the dangerous territory of our normal churches. You cannot take too much of it but a good dose helps and it keeps you going …..
Whilst it may not be for everyone most evening services often finish with a high. They like the crescendo the build-up of lights music and dancing. They are planning the arrival of the holy spirit and want to make a statement. The people running this show probably have clip boards and a list… SLIDE
However, one evening we had Mike Pilovache and he did a good but average and short sermon which considering he has a reputation for speaking for hours was an unusual thing.
But then he did something different he got them to turn up the lights, stopped the band from coming up and we waited there in silence for the holy spirit.
We waited in silence for I don’t know how long but it came and it was one of the most powerful moments of my life as it hit people across that tent affecting them in different ways touching them all with a peace or a power. Judith was there as was Stuart so ask them about it too. It was a wonderful evening but it came from just sitting there patiently in silence waiting for the Holy Spirit to come. Perhaps sometimes we should do that to….
We have all been given those gifts just as the disciples were and were then able to communicate with others and spread the word and love of Jesus. How we use them is up to us, we are empowered to use them but we need to get up and make the best of what we have.
God will give us everything we need if we trust him
Peter was given the gift of being an amazing minister and he used it well
- Your gift may be the gift of listening and being there for somebody SLIDE
- It may be for mission or evangelism SLIDE
- It may be for hospitality or for children’s work. SLIDE
We all have those gifts and the barriers have been broken down to allow us to use them.
Conversations about faith are difficult in some situations, especially at work, but God puts those opportunities in front of us for a reason. Over the years I have to confess that I have always been coy to colleagues and fellow professionals about where I go for a week at Easter.
There are those who ask out of politeness “where’ve you been on holiday” when I speak to them on the phone and I generally avoid the question with them because they clearly don’t really want to know they are just being polite.
Go anywhere nice? Yes but not far I only went to North Somerset stayed local. Sometimes I will even say I went to Butlins….. as if that is better. SLIDE
But God has been putting on me the need to talk about my faith at work a lot more and I have been a lot more open about it in general conversation, around the usual Monday morning chat ‘what did you do this weekend’ and also ‘what do you believe in’.
I have shared some of my recorded sermons with colleagues and I have talked about the local church with established and new Christians. I have brought church much more directly into conversation and how it impacts my life. That was my barrier and whilst it hasn’t completely broken down and I don’t think it ever will I am making progress. One of my colleagues who had no interest in faith has just moved to a new village close to a church and asked me directly “should he go in?”
How do I not answer that without a reflective smile on my face?
And I am pleased to say that it is rubbing off onto our children and young people.
Last year we took 10 young people to SPREE this year we are taking 18. Toby and Jude are in the same class and have been talking about church and SPREE so this year four more of their friends are also going. That is 6 boys! We also nearly had two girls also from the same year from messy church but for various family reasons they were too busy.
That is nearly 20% of the class! It does work.
Church rarely grows from us putting on a great service in here and expecting everybody to come in. God’s family grows when we get out there and take God with us. We need to engage and we need to invite and bring people with us. We need to go to our front line with the power of the Holy Spirit and show God’s love.
There are many books two of the best ones I have which I couldn’t find at homes are – Thank God it is Monday and Fruitfulness on the Front Line. The first is all about the workplace but the second is more about finding your own front line and doing something about it. We cannot all be everywhere but we need to do our bit where we can. In the workplace at the school gate, in the shops in town in clubs or our various groups.
Wherever there is need and you are there find your place and to coin a phrase – Just Do It. SLIDE
One of the things that I worked out with my mentor as part of growing leaders is setting up a work place network for fellow minded Christians to engage. It has taken some time but we are getting there and I have been talking to a lawyer who works on the same business park as me who had the same idea.
That is MY front line where is yours?
To close I just want to help you in doing that by thinking what you would say to somebody after you have said. I go to church on Sunday, I am a Christian and they turn around and say. Really that is interesting why? What do you believe in?
To some that may be a simple question and one which you have answered a hundred times. To others I will warn you that it will come up and you should be ready to answer it.
In is my experience it is far better to be intentional and planned about this. So I want to give you some time to think about it. I will give you about 30 seconds to think about it and then I would like a few volunteers to give me their 30 second elevator pitch because that is sometimes how long you have . If you cannot answer that question in 30 seconds you have probably lost them..
SLIDE + TIMER SLIDE
Let us pray SLIDE
Lord thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit
thank you for being here every day – all day with us.
Thank you for the gifts that you give and help us to use them well.
Please help us in finding our front line and using all our gifts to the best of our ability to grow your Kingdom.