The Day of Pentecost is the turning point in the history of Christ’s Church. The believers have gone from gathering together in fear of the authorities to gathering together in readiness for the promised gift. They are waiting to be baptised with the Holy Spirit. Jesus has spoken to them about the
Kingdom of God and told them that when the Holy Spirit comes upon them they will be filled with power and will be witnesses to him in Jerusalem, in all Judea and , and to the ends of the earth. That prophecy and promise is fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit enables the believers to God’s message to all. Samaria
We often think that Jesus’ words, “you will be witnesses to me in
Jerusalem, in all Judea and , and to the ends of the earth,” mean that they were to start with their own people and gradually move from there to the ends of earth. What we forget is that on the day of Pentecost there were Jews and Gentile converts living in Samaria who had come from every country in the world. The different countries or areas are listed for us in verses 9 – 11: Jerusalem Parthia, Media and Elam; Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia; Pontus and Asia; Phrygia and Pamphylia; Egypt and Libya; Rome, Crete and Arabia. Every country in the world was right there in . Jerusalem
There was a real diversity of nationalities present and of languages spoken in
Jerusalem and the coming of the Holy Spirit enabled the believers in Jerusalem to engage with the diversity that they found in . As they were filled with the Holy Spirit they all began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them. As a result, although the believers were mainly Galileans and not known for being multi-lingual, each person there in Jerusalem heard God’s message in his or her own language. The Holy Spirit embraced the diversity of Jerusalem and gave the believers the tools they needed to communicate in and through that diversity. Jerusalem
But those diversities – of nationality and language – aren’t the only diversities mentioned in this passage. In explaining what God is doing at that time in
, Peter speaks about a diversity of age and gender. Look at the passage that he quotes from the Book of Joel in verses 17-21 – there we find the Holy Spirit being poured out on everyone, young and old, men and women, so that all see visions, dream dreams and proclaim God’s message. God uses the diversity of age and gender among the believers in order to speak to the diversity of nations and languages in Jerusalem . Jerusalem
Now think about our situation here in Seven Kings and in
. Doesn’t it seem similar to the situation in London ? It certainly is if you think about the history of Jerusalem . London has always been one of the world's great cosmopolitan cities. Throughout history, people have come from every continent and corner of the globe to live, to visit, and to mix. Today the city brings together more than 50 ethnic communities of 10,000 or more people. More than 70 different national cuisines are available and a staggering 300 different languages are spoken. That same diversity of ethnicities and language is also here in Seven Kings just as in London . The world is right here in Seven Kings and in London London just as it was in . Jerusalem
Just as, at Pentecost, God poured out his Spirit on old and young, men and women, so we see a diversity to our congregation here at St John’s and also among the Churches of Redbridge. But that diversity is not given to us so that we can pat ourselves on the back and think how wonderful we are. It is given to us so that we can proclaim the message of God to people of every ethnicity, age, gender, disability, sexuality and religion. And we need the Holy Spirit’s power, gifts and enabling to make that happen.
We need to remember too that as the
grew and as God’s message spread there were people who tried to restrict this wonderful new diversity. Even Peter, who led this move into diversity at Pentecost, on one occasion in Early Church tried to restrict the diversity of what God was doing and had to be rebuked by Paul. In the same way today, there are those both in the Church and in our society who want to place restrictions on this diversity. Galatia
In the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost God celebrates and engages with the diversity that we find in the world he has created. The Holy Spirit comes on all for all and we must not seek to restrict the Spirit’s coming but must enable all to hear God’s call on their lives and be filled by the Spirit just as occurred on that first Pentecost in Jerusalem when all the world’s diversity was gathered to see the pouring out of God’s Spirit on all and for all.
Mark Heard - The Dry Bones Dance.