"Yes, even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will proclaim my message."
Over the past year we have had many changes to cope with, both in our everyday lives and church lives, coping with the pandemic. As Easter gave us hope that things will get better, in the Christian calendar the Month of May also brings us hope, we first have Ascension Day and Pentecost, May therefore could be looked on as an ending, and a new beginning. In the same way that we are slow coming out of the lockdown.
Ascension Day is when we remember Christ ascending to be with his Father in Heaven, the last time he was to appear to his disciples here on earth. Pentecost is the Birthday of the Church, when the spirit was poured out on the Disciples, which marked the beginning of the Church.
As a Church, we could be said to be having endings and beginnings all the while. The Church over the centuries has gone through many changes both in worship, and the buildings in which we worship, this can be partly seen in the many denominations that we have. The Church of the past year has had to find new ways of being Church, perhaps the biggest change for us was to take our services on line.
For the Church to be vibrant and relevant it has to be prepared to change, but not to go along with secular fads, the Church needs to be relevant to every generation, and sometimes for us that has been within the Church, for many years those changes may not always seem necessary.
The challenge that each Pentecost gives us, is first to look back to that first Pentecost, to when the first Disciples were thought to be drunk, but were indeed infected by the Holy Spirit, to learn from them and to move forward in the power of the Holy Spirit. In our secular society Church is not as relevant as it once was, and our challenge is to show the world that the Church can still be relevant to them, and to us.
In his speech to the fledgling Church, at that first Pentecost Peter spoke the words of the prophet Joel:
"This is what I will do in the last days, God says "I will pour out my spirit on everyone. Your Son & Daughters will proclaim my message, your young men will see visions, and your old men will have dreams, yes even on my servants both men and women, I will pour out my spirit in these days, and they will proclaim my message."
Even today these words still have relevance for us, even in our days where science seems to have all the answers, if we only let the Holy Spirit in, it will be amazing to see how much the Church will become relevant, especially to a society that thinks it has all the answers.
This Pentecost let us treat it as though it is our first, and ask God to send his Holy Spirit upon us, and see where it leads us.
Yours in Christ
Rev'd Robert Sheard
United Reformed Church Minister of Stowmarket, Debenham, Stowupland, Mendlesham & Haughley