Acts of the Apostles 2:1-21
The day of Pentecost
Fairytales aside – watching the royal wedding yesterday I did think – you know I think she really must love him. Not because being a royal is a great hardship. They will never want for clothes, food or palaces. But because she had much of that and fame with her career already. Only now it will be relentless – there’s no having a break in your career to spend time with family when you are a royal. In some ways it is a challenge beyond what anybody could achieve, even with a life-time of training, the royals themselves, apart from HM the Queen, are known for their gaffs. But if there truly is love there – that might well be the ingredient that they need to make it through the challenges ahead of them. In part because, even when they might be struggling, love, or the memory of that love, can give them something to hope for.
I used to go walking in the mountains on the boarder between France and Spain with a friend. We would take food and gear enough for a week and head out for a week’s adventure. We’d have some bits of guide books that were relevant and maps of each side of the boarder. It was hard work, climbing up from the valleys with the week’s supplies on our backs. But it was worth it, as you got up onto the ridge and the views opened out. The maps weren’t always reliable and the paths weren’t always well maintained. I think after walking the lakes and even the peaks, we just couldn’t quite imagine how challenging some of it would be. There were a few times when it go really hairy. One time when the path vanished with a fallen tree and we couldn’t rediscover it. We wanted to get down hill, but needed to do it safely. Another where we were low on water and needed somewhere to sleep. I hadn’t been feeling well and was tired after a long day. In both cases we leaned on each other to get it through. In both cases, it was when I couldn’t see the way out, when I stopped having a vision of the future, when I started loosing hope, that was when I relied on Paul to get me through, and vice versa.
In the passage from the Acts of the Apostles this morning, we imagine the disciples without much hope. Sitting in this upper room, praying. Scared, worried, lost. And then this beautiful imagery of rushing wind, and tongues of fire landing on each of their heads. And they are driven out by this spirit and are understood by all these people in different languages. The scene is bizarre, to the extent that the only logic could be that they are drunk. Their energy and joy and message was so unexpected, so challenging, so revolutionary, drunkenness was the only explanation that some could think of. So Peter stands up and speaks. This is the same Peter who 50 days before denies he even knows who Jesus is three times. This is the same Peter who was always making mistakes, who leapt out of the boat to walk to Jesus on the water, but had to be rescued when he lost sight of what he was heading for. But now Peter has a clear understanding, he has a clear vision, a hope for the future, he has witnessed Christ’s resurrection, and he has received the Holy Spirit which Paul tells us will guide us into all truth so that we can have hope in things we haven’t yet seen. And that truth that the Holy Spirit shows them. That truth is the God of Love who is Love. The Love of God which gives us a image of what the future is, and drives us out to live according to that paradigm – to live according to Love.
For Peter and the disciples it drives them out into Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost to let people know that Jesus had come into the world for them. That same spirit is with each of us when we are most weak and most in need of support. That same spirit is with each of us when we are embarking on something we feel overwhelmed to even begin. Whether it’s marrying a prince or overcoming a mountain. That same Spirit of God will drive us out of the places where we are comfortable and secure, to engage with those with whom we seemingly have nothing in common. That Spirit guides us, it gives us each a vision of a future, a hope for what we cannot see, a hope for what God can do in us and through us, It shows us a truth which is that through the love of God we will see our sons and our daughters prophesy, we will see young men seeing visions and old men dreaming dreams. And men and women, slave and free, wealthy and poor,
will all receive the spirit and show us the truth of God’s love. And that truth is that God loves us to the end and not anything, not life nor death can get between us and the love of God. And so, accompanied by this great companion, we should not be frightened, but should set our eyes on a vision of a world ruled by the love of God, and we should rule our lives by that sacrificial, reconciling love. And then they will know we are followers of the one God, the creator and redeemer of the world.
The Reverend Robin Sims-Williams
8.00am Said Eucharist in the lady chapel
10.00am Parish Eucharist with choir and Sunday School
Said Eucharist on Wednesdays at 11.00am
Monday through Thursday at 5.30pm
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