(Acts 2.1-11 & John 14.15-end – BCP Holy Communion)

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

God always calls people.  Sometimes they respond joyfully, like Mary.  Others are more reticent, worried that they won’t be up to the task, like Moses.  If we look through the Bible there are many, many examples of God calling people to follow and serve.  

In the Old Testament God nearly always called individuals.  It was upon specific people that he sent his Holy Spirit to empower and enable them for a particular calling – Abraham, Samuel, Saul, David and so on.  We might say that God called the whole people of Israel to be his people, but even then it was through the leadership of specific individuals, such as Moses, that the rest of the people followed.

At Whitsun, otherwise known as Pentecost, God did something rather different.  

He sent his Holy Spirit onto a whole community.  The disciples were together, waiting as they had been told, and the Spirit came upon them, like a rushing mighty wind, like tongues of fire.  The Holy Spirit didn’t come down on one individual who then led the rest, but upon them all.

Being blessed by the Holy Spirit is not a calm or passive experience.  The Spirit moves us – it lifts us up, shakes us, and draws out from us new gifts.  And this is a gift for the whole community, from the greatest to the least.  The Spirit is sent upon old and young, slave and free, male and female.

As we celebrate Pentecost we rejoice that every single Christian has received the Holy Spirit, given to us at our baptism.  Jesus tells us that because he is in the Father, and the Father dwells in him, when we believe and become part of the Body of Christ, then from the Father and through Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, will abide with us for ever.  What the Spirit does is draw Christ’s followers into the godhead, makes us all one.  

There are no bystanders in the Church, and we don’t get to retire as active members of the Body of Christ.  There are plenty of physically active ministries, and there is also the vitally important ministry of prayer.  We have all been commissioned and empowered to respond to Jesus, who tells us to proclaim the good news to the whole creation.  Men and women will prophesy, the young receive visions, the old dream dreams.  

It can sound rather overwhelming.  People thought the disciples on the day of Pentecost were drunk and sneered at them, which gives us a pretty clear idea of how they were behaving, over-flowing with joy and excitement.  And they found themselves able to do things that they weren’t able to do  before, which must have seemed surreal, like an out of body experience. 

Whatever the disciples were waiting for after the Ascension of Jesus, I’m sure the events of Pentecost wasn’t what they had in mind. As a rule, people don’t like change and they don’t like being out of control.  And Pentecost has a definite whiff of being out of control.  So it helps to be reminded that actually control is an illusion.  We are never really in control.  

When things are going well, we can build the illusion up, but as soon as something de-rails our plans, whether it is illness or an unforeseen circumstance, we can see how false that reality is.  In fact the last two years have shown us how paper thin the illusion is, but as things have returned to normal, we’ll have to work hard to prevent that veneer of believing we have control harden once more.  Remember it’s through the cracks that the light shines through.  So let go of any ideas about how you were planning to serve God, and instead let us be guided by the Holy Spirit.  

We don’t know what plans God has for each one of us this Whitsun – but we know that we don’t have to worry about it.  Jesus told us to not let our hearts be troubled, for his peace rests upon us.  Whatever God wants to give us, it’s okay.  Wherever God is calling us to be, there is nothing to fear.  Let God be in control – you can trust in God.

Amen.

(Artwork: Pentecost by Rene de Cramer)