“Pentecost is a moment when new-birth occurs”
When Jesus’s followers found themselves separated from him, whether immediately following the crucifixion or later after the resurrection, his absence threatened to become a crisis. The promise of the Spirit who would “guide them into all the truth and declare to them the things that are to come” did not come immediately as they might have expected. They were frightened and confused people. But suddenly, all that changed. The promise was realized in a way that far exceeded their expectations. New life for the Church. New life for individuals within the Church. New life through the Spirit of God. The meaning of Pentecost became clear.
The book of Acts dramatically describes the coming of the Holy Spirit as an event that breaks down the formidable barriers created by different languages and cultures. The Holy Spirit enables not only common language but also new speech and conversation about the love of God for all humanity. This is new life – sudden and unmerited. That’s the reality of Pentecost and it’s vividly described: a heavenly sound like a rushing violent wind, flames of descending fire, transformed speech, and ears unstopped to hear.
Pentecost is a moment when new-birth occurs. Jesus’s followers receive the Holy Spirit. This is very similar to the beginning of creation. Now, the disciples are filled with God’s breath of life and are transformed from a broken-hearted, confused and frightened group into a powerful and effective community that shares confidently all that God has done, and is doing, in their lives. The inclusiveness of the moment is vividly captured by people from all kinds of ethnic backgrounds and cultures who heard the disciples speak about God’s great deeds of power. What happens at Pentecost is no inner mystical experience, but an outpouring of God’s energy that touches every life present. Like a mighty wind it affects everything and everyone around. When Jesus spoke of the promise of the Father which was going to descend on the world, he was speaking of the way in which the gift of the Holy Spirit would enable us not only to be a new kind of being, but to see human beings afresh and to hear them differently.
The coming of the Holy Spirit brings new life – sudden and unmerited: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be made whole” (Acts 2:21). So let us not be confused or afraid – let us open our lives to God’s Spirit who will fill us with God’s love and set our hearts free and on fire for him.
With every blessing
The Very Revd Dr Christopher Hardwick
Vicar of Tavistock, Gulworthy and Brent Tor