Like wind, as of fire, living water. Acts 2:2, John 7:38, Pastel & Acrylic, Mark Hewitt 2020
Acknowledgement of Country
We acknowledge that we are on land of the Kaurna people, the traditional custodians of the Adelaide Plains. We are awed that they celebrate the religious significance of place, plant and all living creatures; and that care for the earth is implanted in their law. We honour them and also delight in the sacred in our midst. We pray that in the power of the Holy Spirit we might work together for reconciliation and justice in this land
Preparation for Worship
You may wish to set the space before you for worship. There may be symbols you wish to use to prepare for Pentecost. There is the postcard, like wind as of fire, living water. Coloured cloth, Red is good for today & or a lit candle as a symbol of Christ with us. You may wish to make a hot chocolate to have with you this morning or get it ready to have afterwards.
I suggest you watch the family worship video first, even if you are home alone. It won’t be the same if you watch it after. It will show you what you can do with the things in your pack which can help to prepare for this worship video.
Acts 2:1-20 NRSV
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 violent 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.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’ All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
“In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
John 7:37 NRSV
On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.” ’ Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
We heard from two gospel writers today. Set at two different festivals. At Two of the three pilgrimage feasts of Jesus’ day. The first account takes place at feast of Pentecost and is told to us by Luke, yes it’s from Acts but Acts is Luke’s gospel, book 2. In the telling of the event the disciples are trying to describe something really dramatic that changed their life around. Putting into words something beyond words. They were trying to describe the power, drama and the emotion. They did not say the Spirit was wind or Fire but like wind, as of fire.
Wind - This was something they felt; as if they were cleansed by a strong breeze coming off the waters blowing over & around them;
Fire - As if they were warmed right through by standing close to a fire. Warming their whole person.
This is high drama and so they used very strong or powerful language. ‘like the rush of a violent wind’, ‘Divided tongues, as of fire’. What takes place here is about community, as the entire community is present. All are baptised into the Spirit, at the same time. This is not about individuals even though it’s a gathering of individuals.
The Second account of the Spirit is set at the feast of Tabernacles and is told to us by John. Still quite a visual description of the Spirit but different, no like wind or as of fire.
Water - Jesus tells the disciples the Spirit will flow like rivers of living water from believer’s hearts. A pouring out, an action, fluid, moving.
So we have two quite different accounts of the actions of the Spirit of God, these aren’t the only ones in scripture. What can we make of them? The Spirit’s arrival or actions are not to be upheld as one off’s, what we have in these narratives are wondrous actions that symbolise God’s ongoing presence among those who follow after Jesus the Christ. Yes, these two accounts use quite dramatic descriptors of the Spirit but in my experience the Spirit’s presence has not been overly dramatic but gentle. Rather than a violent wind, more like a breeze or a breath. Ruffling my hair if anything. Rather than divided tongues as of fire, yes fire, although more so, the warmth that comes from standing by a campfire on a cold night or the warmth flowing from my hands when holding a mug of hot chocolate. Warmth filling my soul. Then living water, rather than fast flowing rivers, more so, like water of the shallows gently lapping the shore line. The Spirit of God in my experience is the Spirit of Gentleness. A Spirit of Gentleness that is forever flowing over and around our lives. Every moment of everyday.
We are about to enter the longest season in our Church liturgical year. The season after Pentecost, one that stretches out for almost half a year. Right up to Advent in December. So, we have plenty of time to explore more about the coming of the Spirit in our lives. This time is also a season where we have to live with the threat of the COVID-19 virus. The pandemic lockdown may be easing but the virus is still active.
What does it mean to continue the ministry of Jesus in such a world?
What does it mean to move about in such a world knowing we do so with the Spirit of Gentleness flowing from our hearts like rivers of living water?
Rev Mark Hewitt
Prayer - Warming Presence
Warming Presence in a morning cuppa
Slowing in the midst of busyness,
I take this time, O God,
to focus on the warming cuppa
and share in this moment with you.
I give thanks for the time with you,
O timeless One.
It is I who pack so much into my days
that I miss you, and long for you.
You are never far away.
I give thanks for the warmth of the cup,
O Warming Presence.
As I hold it,
I am reminded that you hold me always.
It is I who step apart from our space together.
I give thanks for the sweet smell, rising in the steam,
O Breath of Life.
I too often forget the simple joy
of finding new life and sweet goodness,
in the simple act of breathing in freshness,
and breathing out all that has passed.
I give thanks for sipping the comforting fluid,
O Refreshing One.
Too often, I miss the precious life-giving nourishment
In my quest for better or best.
This is the best, as it is now, here, present,
in the sipping and savouring of the drink.
I give thanks for the life-giving energy,
O Vital One.
As simply as drinking from this cup,
You offer energizing vitality when I most need it,
And it is there, to sip and savour every ‘mouthful’
At any moment in my day.
So, as I take time in this moment,
"breathing in sweetness of life,
breathing out, letting go of all that weighs me down,
I cherish the refreshing nourishment you offer,
And savour the renewing vitality,
in this moment, in this cup,
with thanks, O gentle, humble Giver of Life,
ever present, ever there. Amen
Rev Anne Hewitt
Pentecost, wind, fire, water. Prayerful Colouring, Mark Hewitt 2020