23rd May 2021
Bible Reading : Acts 2:1-4 When the day of Pentecost came they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Today I would like to invite you to a party. We love a party when we have something to celebrate - a birthday, an anniversary, an exam success. I’m sure for all of us it seems a long time since we were able to celebrate in that way. Ian and I have now had 2 Wedding Anniversaries (including our Golden wedding Anniversary) during lockdown and in the last couple of weeks have had our second lockdown birthdays. There are many other celebrations that we have missed as a family and would love the opportunity to have one big party.
Well today is a time of celebration because we are now starting the next stage of easing lockdown restrictions. We are hoping to be able to meet family indoors instead of in the pouring rain and biting cold winds of the garden. I hope today and in the future we will not take for granted some of the very simple things that we used to enjoy so freely.
Today is also a time of rejoicing in the Christian Church, often called the birthday of the Church, when the Holy Spirit came to the first disciples empowering and encouraging them to take the message of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus out into the world- to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the Earth.
Although this took place 2000 years ago the same Holy Spirit is here for us and so we can continue to celebrate. So I would like you to join in this party today just where you are.
I have a couple of invitations that I am looking forward to accepting in the near future - a family wedding and a party on a narrow boat. For our party today one invitation is very important as we invite the Holy Spirit to be here with us.
Let’s do that with a song which we can sing or listen to:
A party needs a special cake and of course a birthday cake has candles.
If you have a real candle you could light it to remind you of the flames that appeared on the heads of the disciples signifying the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. When our children were small we used to love to tease them with the candles that they couldn’t be blown out because they kept relighting. That reminds us of the light of the Holy Spirit that shines from our lives in our actions and never goes out.
Our next song reminds of the continuing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Balloons are often used as decoration or for games at a party. You may have a balloon at home that you can use otherwise I’m sure you will be able to recollect the times you have spent blowing up balloons because in their deflated state they are not much use. The difference is made when we breathe into them. In John 20:22 we read that Jesus breathed on the disciples and they received the Holy Spirit.
There is a story in the book of Ezekiel, a sort of dream or vision that God gave to the prophet Ezekiel. He saw a valley full of dry bones and he said, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord ! I will make breath enter you and you will come to life.’ The bones came together but it was not until the breath entered them that they came to life. ‘They stood on their feet a vast army.’
We are like dry bones (or a deflated balloon) until God fills us with his life giving spirit. We then as individuals and as a corps can become as a vast army, filled with and empowered by God’s Holy Spirit.
When children have a party they usually look forward to the gifts that those who have been invited will bring.
The Holy Spirit comes to us bringing gifts. As we lift the lid we see a variety of gifts that he offers us to help us in our Christian service.
Here is a list of some of those gifts but as you look at you will realise that no one person is given all of the gifts.
Prophecy, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, showing mercy, message of wisdom, message of knowledge, faith, discernment, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, evangelism, love.
As you look at some of those gifts that are listed in the New Testament ask God to reveal to you the gifts that you already possess to use in His service. Ask that through the Holy Spirit that it will become more than a talent because you are empowered by the Holy Spirit. It will then used not just for yourself but to bring glory to God and also to be used within the church contributing alongside the gifts that others possess.
No party is complete without food and we are having a healthy party with plenty of fruit. Perhaps you have a piece of fruit you could eat just now and if you have someone else in your household, share with them.
The fruit reminds us that the Holy Spirit not only gives us gifts but is responsible for bringing Christ like characteristics into our lives. Paul, in his letter to the Galatians (5: 22-23) describes these as the fruit in our lives. Unlike the gifts we can choose which of the fruits we will have or which ones are only relevant to us. The Christian needs to seek to display all the fruit of the Spirit which is something we can only do if we allow the spirit to fill us. Someone has said that some Christians are like Christmas trees- all gifts but no fruit. That may make us smile but if we are to witness to those who do not yet believe, they need to see those characteristics displayed in the life of those who profess to be controlled by the spirit.
Prayer Holy Spirit, we thank You for the special powers and abilities You have given to us. You are the source of the many different spiritual gifts that You distribute to believers so that we can help each other and build up the church. Empower us, we pray, with Your gifts of teaching, miracles, healing, helping others, leadership and more! But most of all, empower us to love You with all our heart, soul and mind and to love others as we love ourselves. Amen.
As we conclude our time of worship and celebration I invite you to dance and sing for joy. If you can physically do this we can have rejoicing hearts as we sin our final song.
Thank you for reading
Prepared by Major Irene K