Sunday 23rd May 2021

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So, for the last 3 Sundays we have been looking at a sermon Simon-Peter preached. It is the first occasion when someone other than Jesus tells us about God’s gift of a Saviour – the ‘Anointed One’ (Christ / Messiah). We have seen how Simon-Peter has explained that that through God raising Jesus from the dead, we have a Saviour. He explains that God’s gift of Salvation had been foretold throughout the portion of scriptures which we call the Old Testament and highlights the prophet Joel and two of King David’s psalms. We recognise that what Simon-Peter preaches is the same promise we have put our faith in.

Today our bible reading tells us about the events which lead up to Simon-Peter making this speech. It occurred 50 days after Easter Sunday - that’s today and for those people listening to Simon-Peter it was 50 days since they celebrated Passover and they were now celebrating the feast of Pentecost giving thanks for first of their harvests - the grain harvest, essential for making bread. Let’s read about the events which caused a crowd to gather and listen to Simon-Peter’s sermon.

Read: Acts 2: 1-13

Throughout the Old Testament, when they wanted to mention God’s Holy Spirit, they used the same word which they also used for wind and breath, leading a number of hymnwriters to use the phrase ‘breath of God’ to describe God’s Holy Spirit. It also creates for me the idea of God giving us mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, breathing his breath in our lives!

So, the word used for Spirit is not only describing breath but also as wind and like the wind, we can’t see God the Holy Spirit – only see the result of his presence. Over the last few days we have seen the effect of wind but perhaps viewed it all negatively, whereas in a previous eras, wind was essential, for sailing boat, windmills and the removing the chaff from the grain. Chaff is the husk around the nutritious seed, and wind was and still is harnessed to separate the two. God’s breath, his Holy Spirit wants to blow away the useless things in our lives and leave the useful; remove the worthless and leave the precious. If we allow him, God’s Spirit will remove what is unhelpful and enable us to recognise what is helpful in living lives which please God.

SO we can see how God’s Spirit connects with the sound of a mighty rushing wind, but what about God’s Spirit then revealing his presence through tongues of fire?

Fire was how through the old covenant promise from God, people could find forgiveness for their sin and God the Holy Spirit is how through the new covenant promise from God we know that our sins have been forgiven. Through us putting our faith in Jesus’ crucifixion being the sacrifice offered up to God for our sin, God now looks at us and sees us washed clean, purified by the blood of Jesus. The word used to summarise this, is that God’s Spirit sanctifies us.

If you had asked one of the crowd listening to Simon-Peter to list the uses fire has, they would have included something we wouldn’t think about. Fire was used to prevent the spread of infection in wounds. Through cauterizing the wound it was purified and God’s Holy Spirit comes to cauterize the hold sin has on our lives, enabling God to look at us not just as forgiven but seeing us as purified from the infection of sin - sanctified 

While we now refer to today as Pentecost, the same word those listing to Simon-Peter referred to it by, we used to refer to today as Whitsun - White Sunday. White referring to the cleansing presence of God’s Spirit in our lives showing that God has forgiven us, purified us – sanctified us

Paul in the letters he writes to believers in Corinth and Rome talks about God the HS being a deposit and guarantee. He uses these words 3 times – 2 Corinthians 1:22 / 5: 5 / Ephesians 1: 14. Paul writes that God’s Spirit guarantees that we belong to God and he will always be with us, while this presence of God’s spirit is only a deposit, a taster of our inheritance as heirs of God - a little taster of what we will later fully experience.

Use these words to help you thanks God for the ever-present help of his Holy Spirit:

O breath of Life come sweeping though us, revive Your Church with life and power;

O breath of Life, come, cleanse, renew us and fit Your Church to meet this hour.

O Wind of God, come bend us, break us till humbly we confess our need;

then, in Your tenderness remake us, revive, restore – for this we plead.

O Breath of Love, come breathe within us, renewing thought and will and heart;

come, love of Christ, afresh to win us, revive Your Church in every part!

(Elizabeth A P Head 1850-1936)

Page last updated: 30th May 2021 6:05 AM