It’s been another busy week for the folks at West View Baptist Church. On Friday we held our regular Filling Station community meal and on Saturday morning we held our Big Brekkie in support of the work of Christian Aid. I left the church on Saturday after sorting out the tables and chairs and putting things ready for our Sunday Service. Imagine if you will my surprise when I turned on the radio in my car to be greeted with the words “When love is the way no child will go to bed hungry in the world again”
Shivers ran through me. I’d just spent two days with my church friends feeding people. It does not get any more real and timely than that. I was of course listening to Bishop Michael Curry sharing the Word with probably one of the biggest audiences in the world. I listened absolutely riveted to the reminder of his talk for the Royal Wedding. I couldn’t wait to get home and hear his talk from the very beginning. What saddened me over the course of the weekend was the amount of “Christian” commentators lining up to find fault and take potshots. My stance on this is simple, rejoice and celebrate the fact that God’s Word about love and indirectly, through his fire references, about Pentecost just got broadcast to billions. Bishop Curry may not be your style of preacher but he hit the spot with many people. Pray that his words prompt something in those that heard him. Oh and spare a thought for any preacher who gets asked for a “Michael Curry sermon” the next time someone wants to organise their wedding.
Tim led our Pentecost service supported by Jonny and Amanda. We had a last minute change of songs as we found Song of Kingdom Come that we had used in our Chrisitian Aid event really powerful (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQDQrhpYY2Q)
Tim was very brave and used some balloons for our children to help illustrate the idea of the Holy Spirit rushing in and filling the disciples. Imagine if you can our pastor throwing around limp balloons with no air in them and then being instructed by the children in our church how to blow up a balloon and tie a knot in it and you get the picture.
Tim shared Acts 2 1:21 with us. He then asked if we had ever had a dream as a child? He reflected on the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Tim’s sister wanted to be a bird. Tim was similar in his dream. He wanted to be a pilot. Then he found he needed glasses. Jam jar strength glasses. That put paid to that dream. So he decided to study engineering and build aircraft. He had success in engineering but not in building aircraft , he ended up in Hartlepool working on power station stuff.
It’s a struggle to live up to our own dreams. Tim asked us to think instead about fulfilling our potential. For Jews Pentecost was a harvest festival. Jerusalem was a busy place.
Jesus gave his followers a task to go to the ends of the earth and make disciples. Visualise the whoosh the tongues of fire as a visual symbol of God’s presence and power. However we need to all remember that Pentecost was not the first time the gifts of the Holy Spirit were bestowed on people. This was repeated throughout the Old Testament. Think of Ezekiel or Moses with the dry bones , the burning bush and the Pillar of fire. The Holy Spirit was not just invented at Pentecost. Bezalel is the first person in the bible being equipped by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Gifts of craftsmanship and artistry to build the tabernacle. King Saul is given gifts of the spirit, yet he clearly wasn’t spiritually mature. He was a bit rubbish at times.
The Holy Spirit is given by Jesus to his disciples in John 20: 22. Maybe Pentecost is the reboot, the jump start the turning up of the volume. Now and then we need the jump start. Business like their power lunches, we like our power tools. The same powerful God fills his believers with the power of his Spirit so we can witness. The disciples huddled timid and afraid and then they receive the power and the languages, one of many gifts given to the church.
Tim also highlights that the the list in the Bible is not definitive , God gives the gift that the church needs at the time it is needed. The primary purpose of the Holy Spirit is to empower, to allow us to witness.
Word-challenged Peter is now eloquent. They are given when we need them. The Holy Spirit should constantly fill us as set out in Romans 8 and Ephesians 5. The emphasis of Paul is to make our lives more godly.
How do you know it is working. Often we see a dramatic change we see fruit. List the fruit in our lives. These are the things that mark us as living His way. Maybe we struggle, feel a lack of joy, a lack of self control, maybe we rush in. Paul says ask God to fill you and to keep on filling you. Acts 2 declares the wonders of God. When our experience is and should be that God has poured his love into us and we are filled with joy. It even helps when we are struggling to pray. The Holy Spirit comes to give us power to live, to witness to worship. Pentecost gives us this. We can’t bottle it or contain it. Jesus says the Holy Spirit blows where it pleases. But how do we get the jump start for our flat battery. The answer is simple. We don’t need a special experience or a super hero praying for us. Jesus says in Matthew 7:7-11 NIV
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
It is given in the simple response to us asking, nothing more complicated than that, ask and it will be given, seek and you will find.