What a wonderful celebration of Pentecost –
Pentecost (from the word pente- 5) comes 50 days after Easter. I feel sorry for the followers of Jesus during those 50 days. After three incredible years of following Jesus, walking with him, learning from him, sharing with him, they had seen him tortured and murdered. Then the word began to spread that he was alive again, some people saw him, ate with him, touched him. Slowly they began to believe that it was true – he was alive! But then at the Ascension they were left again confused and upset. He said I am calling YOU to be my witnesses, stay in Jerusalem until you are clothed with power. They were so confused, no doubt afraid, maybe they would also be killed if they mentioned Jesus’ name. And then Pentecost day
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. They began to preach the gospel and three thousand were added to their number.
They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching, to breaking of bread and prayer. There were wonders and miracles. All the believers were together, selling all their possessions they gave to anyone has he had need.
People can debate what exactly happened, what were the tongues the fire, what exactly were the different languages. But what is crystal clear is what happened to the followers of Jesus
There was a complete transformation in their lives:
- From scared they became courageous
After seeing what had happened to Jesus no wonder they were afraid of both Roman military and Jewish authorities. They were in hiding.. and now suddenly they had the courage to preach in front of great crowds of people
They were given a mission, they were sent. There is a saying that “a church without mission is like a fire without burning”
The very first mandate that we were given my God was this” Care for my Earth”
We read that God placed Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden and in Gen 2:15 he says work the earth and look after it.
We have done a very bad job of looking after God’s earth. If we walk around we see litter lying everwhere. A plastic bag does not disappear it will lie there for 200 years! It will eventually end up blowing to a river and clogging rivers with filth or into the sea. Archeologists dig down and identify settlements from the stone age or the bronze age, they will know us as the plastic age
We are filling our rivers with toxins from acid mine drainage, from plastic, from pollution. We do not care for water as a sacrad gift from God.
But the most worrying is this – we re changing the world. Around this earth there is a thin layer of atmosphere which keeps the earth at the right temperature for life. We are pumping carbon pollution from our coal burning, from our cars,trains and taxis into the atmosphere. South Africa has the dirtiest electricity in the world because most of it comes from coal.
As this blanket gets thicker, so the earth warms This is leading to increases of drought as you are experiencing here. A couple of weeks ago I was in Namibia and the told me with tears in their eyes of the drought. They have had to slaughter their cattle, which is their inheritance for the future.
So what do we learn from Pentecost about how to take up this challenge?
- From separated – united
One of the signs of the spirit is that they were one, they came together regularly to meet and they weren’t hiding away , lonely and stressed in their own corner. Day by day they spent time together in the temple, they broke bread
People have different angles on caring for creation, some are passionate about preserving animals or birds, others care passionately about the fact that peoepl don’t have access to clean water. We need to come together , support each other and carry the mission out.
- From Selfish to generous
Peter to protect himself said’ I do not know this man’ now we read all who believed were together and had all things in common, they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all as any had need. No one had need amongst them
Climate change and environmental degradation have at their root greed. That we can take more and more from the earth, consume more and more, destroy more and more. In order to protect the planet we need to aspire to a simpler lifestyle. We need to life more simply so that others may simply live.
- From Sorrowful to joyful
From the sadness and despondency of losing their beloved Jesus, they were now so joyful people thought they were drunk at nine o’clock in the morning! to care for creation is a joyous thing, we connect again with nature, spend time in nature, growing good things in God’s earth, seeing beauty where there was none before. I am reminded of the Jewish people when they returned to the promised land after World War 2, they found a desert and they committed themselves to planting trees. They planted 100s of thousands and changed the climate of the land. Even today there is a feast day when all Jewish children around the world send money to Israel to plant trees, because it is their holy Land. We can make a difference, we are filled the creative spirit of God.
These are the marks of the spirit- we are courageous, we have a purpose, we are united, we are generous we are full of joy.
by Rachel Mash