Surprised by the Holy Spirit – 19 May 2013
Did you know that all over the world today, millions and millions of Christians are celebrating a surprise birthday party that began almost two thousand years ago? Today is Pentecost, the day that is associated with the Birth of the Christian Chuch and the pouring out of God’s Spirit on ALL people.
So brothers and sisters in Christ – HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!
Jerusalem from many different places and regions to celebrate one of the Jewish pilgrimage feasts, The Feast of Weeks, (Exodus 23:16, Leviticus 23:15-21, Deuteronomy 16:9-12) fifty (“pente”) days after Passover. The crowd gathered for the festival is listed in Acts 2:9-11 by geographical order, proceeding from east to west. It also includes some groups that no longer exist today. This week I will be attenmding our Queensland Synod meeting at Alexandra Headland. Leaders and laity will be coming from all sorts of geographical areas of Queensland, from north, south, east and west. We wll be celebrating and worshipping God, much akin to that first Pentecost experience so long ago. Can you please pray for us as we attend to the ‘business of the Synod’ and pray for God’s wisdom and leading into the next phase of ministry. The Uniting Church in Queensland is a huge ‘organisation’ and we need to constantly be ‘reformed by God’s Spirit’ so that we don’t get bogged down in peripheral distractions along the way.
Today, here in Ashmore, we too are gathering to meet God and celebrate the joy of Christ’s love for the world. We also are a diverse group made up of people from many places around the world, like on that first Pentecost. My prayer is that all who gather to worship God together today in this ‘family service’, will again be Surprised by God’s Holy Spirit and we will hear God speaking to us in our ‘own language’.
Pentecost reveals us to be the gathered and scattered people of God’s Spirit. God gathers individuals into community. Think about that sentence. We come as individuals … but surprise, surprise … in Christ, we forgo our selfish individuality and through the Acts of the Spirit of God … we become ONE .. we become the Body of Christ.
On Friday night in this church we experienced something of that community as individual churches gathered together to pray with ONE HEART for the City of the Gold Coast. There were many churches, many cultures and much diversity all focused on God’s Glory being expressed here in our City. We sang in Korean, Spanish and English. We prayed in other languages as the Spirit led us and the Good News of God was shared. In Acts 2:1-21 the many different people heard “in their own languages about the wonderful things God has done” What a wonderful surprise this was for those gathered on that first Pentecost.
Today I hope that each person will hear the GOOD NEWS OF GOD in your ‘own language’:- whether you are young or old, male or female, whether you’ve come from a Conservative background or a Pentecostal background, I pray that God speaks to us as the Body of Christ in Community (common-unity), helping us to celebrate our differences and bringing us closer together in worship.
However the next step in The Acts of the Apostles once we’ve gathered as community is for us to be scattered into the world to continue the share in God’s mission….not on our own, but in God’s power and strength. So we are being called to action. Scott Bessenecker from Servants to Asia’s Poor said it this way:- “Pentecost was God’s occupy movement”. How do you like that challenge?
Grace filled Speaking AND Listening in the Spirit … this week.
Rev. Brad Foote