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A Pentecost Reflection





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Pentecost Reflections 


Read : Acts 2, 1 Corinthians 12 

The jigsaw (see picture) is one of those that has pieces in all sorts of unusual shapes, I removed some of them so that you can see. But the pieces all fit together to make the picture (of Salisbury Cathedral in case you were wondering). If even one piece is missing it's noticeable, because the picture is incomplete. In the same way we all make up the church of God, and every person and every gift, no matter how small you may think it is, is necessary. There is a hole that only you can fill, and without that gift, or without you, the church is incomplete. 

jigsaw

I remember the first time I met Jesus. I had heard of him before that of course. Had heard the things people said about him. Some said he did miracles, others that it was just tricks to impress the gullible. Some liked the things he said, they seemed to make others very angry, but it was all at second-hand, until the evening he came to our house.  

Since my mother died, we have not had a Passover meal here in our house, although sometimes friends or neighbours invite us to share theirs. So I was surprised the day my father came home and said guests would be joining us for a Passover meal. I was even more surprised that evening, when Jesus and his friends arrived, and that was when I saw Jesus for the first time.  

There were many other people here that night too, with Jesus' many friends and his family. When they arrived they were all talking to each other and laughing, and they seemed a happy group. They all wanted to hear what Jesus had to say, and wanted to impress him with what they said. The Passover meal is never a light-hearted occasion of course, but it is not usually sad either. This one was though. I did not understand what was happening, but as Jesus talked, and passed around a cup of wine for everyone to share, his friends got quieter and quieter. They all looked very confused, and some of them were angry, but Jesus looked sad.  

Actually, that was the only time I ever saw Jesus, because the next day he was dead. It seemed impossible to believe, one day he was eating with us, and the next day he was dead, but he had been arrested soon after he left our house, and then he was crucified. We found out about it, when some of his friends arrived back at our house, they were scared to death and wanted to hide, but needed to be with each other too. So they gathered again in our big upstairs room, with the doors barricaded, afraid they would be next to be taken away and killed. They had all believed Jesus came from God, believed his miracles, had hoped he would defeat the Romans. Now he was dead, and they did not know what to think anymore. Perhaps they had been fools to believe. But what if he really had come from God, and everything had gone horribly wrong. The only things knew for sure were that Jesus was dead, and that being friends with someone crucified was as good as a death sentence. So here they huddled, too scared to go out, to scared to do anything. 

My Father introduced me to some of them. There was Peter, he was a big man, built like bear, but he seemed unable to string six words together without putting his foot in it, and he seemed a bit slow to me. And Thomas, asking the questions no one else dared ask, desperately trying to understand what had gone wrong. Mary, Jesus' mother, she said she had always known something terrible would happen to him, but her advance warning did not seem to be helping her cope with her son being dead. And John, who was the youngest of their group, which meant that everyone treated him like their little brother, but he did not seem to mind, and he always had a kind word for everyone.  

They stayed here stunned for two days, and then they said Jesus had come back. I could not believe it when first they told me - Jesus was dead, people had seen him dead, how could he come back, but his friends insisted he had. That he walked into our house, talked to them all, and told them not to be afraid. As if that was not strange enough, he did it all again a week later - I wondered if that was so they did not think they had just imagined it the first time. My Father was there the second time, and he said it was true, Jesus really was alive again. 

Jesus' friends were a lot happier after that, although they still kept well clear of Roman soldiers, but with Jesus back among them, they knew everything would work out this time. They were like that for weeks, and we did not see much of them during that time, but occasionally someone would call in and let us know what was happening. Then one evening they all arrived on our doorstep. All the joy had gone out of them, and they said Jesus had gone away again, and he told them this time they would not see him again. At least he was not dead, but they could not believe he had gone, and they seemed lost, with no idea what to do next. 

Jesus had also told them that they were to tell the whole world about him. But it seemed impossible that these scared, confused, uneducated people could do that. All they knew was that Jesus had told them to wait in Jerusalem until he sent someone to help them. Which is why they were all in our house again, waiting. They spent a lot of time praying, and talking, and arguing too, because they did not know what to do. They were terrified that if they started telling people about Jesus being crucified and coming back from the dead, that would upset the Romans and the temple authorities, and get them all killed. 

So they sat around our house for days, until one day - Pentecost it was, I remember they had been arguing about whether they should risk going to the temple services, but had decided it was too dangerous. Anyway, suddenly there was a loud noise. It sounded to me like the noise of the wind when there is a storm on the sea. Some of the men said it sounded like a sandstorm in the desert. Then someone started screaming about fire. They were right, some of them were on fire, there were flames all over them. Others rushed to beat out the flames, but they would not go out, and as I watched, more people caught fire, and the screaming and shouting got louder.  

Then Peter, I think it was, said "wait, look, it is not burning me" - and he was right. He was surrounded by flames, but there was no smoke, and no smell of burning, and as we watched, the flames got less until they were just around everyone's heads like flickering crowns. They may not have been on fire, but I was very afraid, and most of them looked the same. 

Then someone else, it may have been Thomas, laughed and said how wonderful he felt. He said he was not afraid any more, and that he was ready right now to go to the end of the world to tell people about Jesus. Gradually they all began laughing and crying, as they realised they all felt the same. They said that this must be what Jesus had told them to wait for, this must be the helper he promised to send. Some of them sounded as though they were talking ion other languages, which seemed very strange. 

Then suddenly, in the midst of all the laughter, people were pounding on the doors, demanding to be let in. And they just threw the doors wide open, and invited everyone in - then I knew something had changed. Until then, they had all been hiding behind our locked doors, now they were not afraid to open them, or to let anyone in. People started streaming into the room, all wanting to know what was going on. There was not enough space for everyone though, because a huge crowd had gathered in the square outside, and they all wanted to join the party.  

So Peter and some of the others climbed up onto the roof, and started talking to the crowd, telling them that that they were not all drunk, and it was not a party, trying to explain what was going on. Everyone could see their crowns of flames, so they knew something unusual was happening. Then Peter, who could not usually string six words together without putting his foot in it, was telling them all about Jesus. He was telling them how Jesus had been sent from God, about his death and resurrection, the whole story. He had them all spellbound as they listened.  

I went to tell some of our friends and neighbours to come and listen too, and as I made my way through the crowd I realised that there were people there from all over the world, all speaking different languages. They could not understand each other, but somehow, incredible though it sounds, everyone understood exactly what Peter was saying. 

Peter talked for a long time, and then some of the others took turns at talking. The crowd believed what they were saying, and they wanted to become followers of Jesus too. Thousands of them, all wanting to be baptised right there and then. The disciples worked long into the night baptising all those people, but no-one left. Everyone stayed and cheered as each person was baptised. I know because I was there. Everyone in our household was baptised that day. 

After that everyone seemed to use our house as their meeting place. For days it was full to bursting with people praying and praising God. People just enjoying being with others who also believed in Jesus as the Saviour from God. Eventually though, people started leaving to travel back to their homes, taking the good news with them, and many of Jesus' original friends started leaving on journeys too, to go and tell other people about Jesus.  

Those were amazing days, everyone had changed, and Jesus' original friends had changed the most. From being afraid of their own shadows and hiding in our house, now they did not seem afraid anything, they were talking about Jesus, and healing people, so that the good news of Jesus spread everywhere.  

Some of them, like Thomas, travelled far away, and we never saw them again. Although occasionally, a stained and battered letter would arrive from a far away place, to tell everyone in Jerusalem how they were getting on. Some of them did not go very far, just back to their homes and families. They told everyone there about Jesus, and started their own communities of believers, and when they were in Jerusalem, they would call in to see us.  

We heard that some of them were killed for talking about Jesus, but that never seemed to stop anyone from sharing the good news. Peter eventually became the leader of all the believers. For those who knew the old Peter, that would be hard to imagine, but he had changed so much, they all had, we all had. And it was all because of that Pentecost day, many years ago now. When the sound of the wind, and flames of fire were a sign that, although Jesus had left us, he had sent his promised helper. So that we would never need to be alone, or scared again, and that whatever we needed to do he would always be there to help us. 

 Ruth Gilett, Reflective Worship

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