Last week marked a new milestone for me, as it was the first post on the DailyDust blog since August 2021. For those of you who know me well, it’s been an “interesting” time over these past two years. Waiting for life to reach a place of peace and calm has proved pointless, and daily squalls continue to rock the boat. But that is the nature of human life. Peace and stability are wonderful in the moments that we have them, but definitely not a permanent state of being for most of us! I have learnt, in a very personal way, that no matter how bad today has been, as Annie famously sang, tomorrow is another day. A chance for a fresh beginning.
Pentecost marks a very significant beginning – the birth of the Church worldwide. Jesus’ earthly ministry has ended at the Ascension, and the disciples are waiting in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to come upon them. Jesus has given them the Great Commission (Matthew 28.18-20), to spread his message of love, peace, mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation to all peoples in all nations. They are waiting for the tools, the ability, the power to carry out that command. And in the meantime as they wait, they obey the Great Commandment (Matthew 22.36-40) – to love God, and to love their neighbour as themselves. Every day, praying together, eating together, supporting each other, and worshipping together in the Temple.
And it is here, in the Temple, that the Holy Spirit comes upon them in power, and the Church is born. Acts 2 says they were in a house – but what if that house was the house of the Lord? It makes greater sense of what follows – that the crowds around them heard this sound of a rushing wind, that they heard the sudden speaking in tongues, and Peter did not have to go anywhere to speak, but rather stood up and addressed the crowd there and then. There was water to hand for baptism, and three thousand were baptised that day! They were in no ordinary house!
The incredible bravery of this new start is breath-taking. Fifty days earlier, these men were in utter terror of the Jewish religious authorities (John 20.19-22). Jesus was crucified. Then came the Resurrection, then the forty days of Jesus’ post-resurrection ministry with them, encouraging and equipping them for the next step. Then ten days waiting after the Ascension – during which time they were continually praying and worshipping in the Temple, without fear (Luke 24).
The Word of God, which had previously been for the Jews and for converts to Judaism, was now in all languages and freely offered to all people. It would be a while yet before Peter and the others realised the true generosity and breadth of God’s self-giving – that this message is truly for all the nations, not just Jews.
Jesus was and is for everyone. The Word of God continues to be translated into all languages across the world. Prayer and worship is continuous, day and night, throughout the nations. It was as if a second Big Bang explosion occurred, and there has been a constant spread and evolution ever since, rippling out across time and place.
Pentecost was that new milestone, that point of new beginning, when what had previously been known only to relatively few exploded into the consciousness of thousands, and yet more thousands, on into millions. You and I and all Christians are part of that “great cloud of witnesses” to the love, peace, mercy, justice, and forgiveness of God through His Son Jesus Christ. And that it is through Him that we are able to begin again. He helps us to pick ourselves up when we fall, He tends our wounds, and gives us the courage to face a new day, a new beginning, with Him as our companion. He does indeed send the rain on the righteous and the unrighteous; God shows no partiality, He loves us all equally. But for those who trust Him and call upon His Name, when the floods come they will not be overwhelmed (cf. Isaiah 43.2).