THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
This Sunday is the day of Pentecost – the day when we remember the experience of the disciples in the Upper Room when they received what Jesus called “power from on high”. The name ‘Pentecost’ comes from a Jewish Festival of that name (also sometimes called the “Feast of Weeks”) which occurred fifty days after the Passover. It was a harvest festival, celebrating the completion of the grain harvest, and a time in which the first fruits of the harvest were offered to God. But it was also a time of remembering the giving of the law at Mount Sinai after the Exodus from Egypt. It was one of the three great festivals of Judaism.
It’s significant that this was the day when the disciples experienced the outpouring of God’s Spirit. After Jesus had fulfilled the law in his life, death and resurrection, the disciples now experienced the fulfilment of Jeremiah’s prophecy of a time when God’s law would be written on the heart. You may remember that, in Galatians 5, Paul teaches that those who live by the Spirit, and produce the fruit of the Spirit, need no law. This is because it is written on their hearts. So, in a way, the disciples were receiving the “new” law, much as Moses received the “old” law on Mount Sinai millennia before.
In addition, the followers of Jesus, and those who came to faith on this day, were the “first fruits” of the new community that God was bringing into being, based on the message and mission of Jesus – bringing God’s Reign of justice, peace and love into the world. But, in the new ability to speak in different languages that the disciples received, God demonstrated what kind of community this was to be. Language so often divides people – as it did in the Babel story in Genesis – but God enabled the disciples to overcome these divisions and create a diverse, inclusive community in which all were welcome.
Pentecost is about a personal gift of power, but, as we see here, it is also about so much more. How can you embrace the whole gift of Pentecost this week?
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