As significant to Christians as Christmas or Easter, Pentecost marks the coming of the Holy Spirit to the disciples, in preparation for the work that lay ahead of them.A violent wind filled the house and tongues of fire came to rest on each of them.
Mrs Jane Close (LP), leading our service, described it as “a day when joy and comfort flowed”.
She explained the message of Pentecost to our Young Church by asking them to identify and then play a number of instruments - a drum, shakers, a ‘kalimba’ (or thumb piano), a rain tube (invented by the Aztecs to bring about rainstorms) and a recorder.With all except the recorder, it’s possible to see how the noise is made. In the same way, Jane told us, we can’t see how God’s spirit came down at Pentecost but we can witness the result. The instruments - and the Triangle’s ever-popular array of flags - were then used to accompany the Praise Band in the hymn ‘I am a new creation’, a cheerful and rowdy rendering before Sunday school.
In preparation for the Old Testament reading (Ezekiel 37, 1-14), Jane introduced the prophet’s vision of the valley of dry bones, symbolizing the state of the house of Israel at the time, its people in captivity and its temple destroyed. The reviving of the dry bones signified God’s plan for Israel’s restoration, she said, and pointed to the story’s relevance in our own difficult times.
Led by the choir, we then trialled a charming new version of the hymn (385) ‘Holy Spirit, we welcome you’, before the great New Testament reading from Acts 2, 1-12 - the arrival upon the disciples in the upper room of the Holy Spirit, in the form of a violent wind and tongues of fire.
Jane began her sermon by looking ahead to next Sunday, Trinity, and the development of the concept of one God in three persons - Father, Son and Holy Spirit; earlier writers had insisted that there was only one God.
‘Father’ and ‘Son’ are easy to comprehend, she said, but what is ‘Spirit’. In old Testament times it was believed the Holy Spirit or ‘Ghost’ came to chosen people - Gideon and Sampson, for example, to enable them to do the task God had set them. It was John Wesley who recognised that the Holy Spirit lives within all of us, held back only by our own doubts and the fear of what we might be asked to do. In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul lists the gifts available to us, and Jane reminded us of the Spirit working within us all as individuals, and as a community.
The Prayers of Intercession were divided up by the singing of ‘Spirit of the Living God’ (385) and the service ended with a fine performance of ‘O Thou who camest from above’.
Kindly donated by Astley Jones.