31 May 2020
Those who read my last reflection will know that I was thinking about Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit. Today, on Pentecost Sunday, I want to say something about the Holy Spirit who comes at the time of Lockdown!
We know exactly where the community of Jesus’ followers were at Pentecost because in Acts 1 we hear that after the Ascension they headed right back to the upper room in Jerusalem. (In John 20:20 we hear that they had been visited there by the risen Jesus and the doors were locked because they were afraid). Whatever had happened after the Resurrection and the Ascension of Jesus it still wasn’t enough to empower them to become a new, risen, community of faith. They were living in prayer, but times were uncertain and they were staying at home.
…they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of] James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.
Here is what happened (Acts 2):
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a powerful wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
The Holy Spirit came in through locked doors. The prayer of the community gave an opening to the Spirit’s presence. This experience was new and different and powerful. Everyone there was filled with the Holy Spirit and fear was replaced with fire. Everyone was given the ability to communicate in different languages. We know they immediately went out to share the Gospel with crowds of people, and there was no turning back. The Church was born.
When we say ‘we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord the Giver of Life,’ this is the Spirit we are talking about. The Holy Spirit comes and gives life where there is uncertainty, fear, loss and confusion. The Spirit reminds us that Jesus came to bring not just mediocre, getting-by life, but life to the full. This Spirit frees us from the places we are locked down and gives us the power to fulfil our calling, and a new direction as members of communities of love, faith and solidarity. The Spirit lifts the restrictions we place on ourselves and each other and says ‘live!’
Let this be the day that we ask the Spirit to come and live in us. To open the doors of our hearts. To give us power to live in hope and freedom. Happy Pentecost 2020!