This Sunday (28th May) is the seventh Sunday after Easter – yes, the year is flying by, but more importantly, it means it is Pentecost Sunday and an opportunity to remember, celebrate, re-immerse ourselves in the story of the giving of the Spirit at Pentecost as told in the opening of the book of Acts.
I suspect that on most Pentecost Sundays we, and other churches, start our Bible reading in Acts 2 verse 1. But this year I think we need to start our reading a little earlier to see some important things God wants to say to us from before the disciples gathered in the upper room. So, we’ll read Acts 1: 3–5; Acts 1: 12–14, and Acts 2: 1-13.
What are those important things …well I’m still praying, reading, and thinking about that, but my sense is we need to see the coming of the Spirit upon the disciples in Jerusalem in a slightly wider context.
If you have been listening to the Podcast, then you’ll know we’ve been pulling Iain’s leg about his frequent use of Greek on a Sunday morning. Personally, I love what Iain brings out from his knowledge of Greek (which is better than mine), but here’s a bit of Greek in the blog rather than the sermon. Pentecost comes from the ancient Greek word for fiftieth. Greek had become the language of the Roman Empire and so many Jews had been scattered across the Empire that a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Septuagint, was made (probably in Egypt). In Leviticus 23: 15 – 21 we read about the festival/feast which was the “seventh Sabbath, fifty days” from Passover. The word the Septuagint uses for fifty days is Pentecost, and so this is what this one-day feast came to be known as.
It is often difficult to know where to stop a Bible reading, and this is one such occasion. We could have read the whole of chapter 2, which would have been quite a long reading, and I am aware that by stopping at verse 13 we miss the whole of Peter’s speech and the response to it!
If the before of Acts 2: 1 -13 is important then the “after”, verses 14 – 47, are equally important as they remind us that the giving of the Spirit was not so the disciples could have some private ecstatic experience but so the good news of Jesus, the wonderful salvation found in him, could be made known to many.
Perhaps as you spend time in God’s word leading up to Sunday you could read the whole of Chapter 2 for yourself and ask God to speak to you through this.
Grace and peace.