Thought for the month
Thought for the month Provided by Jacqui Witting – Congregational Worship Leader
I am writing this article for the Newsletter in the month of May – on Ascension Day to be precise. As anyone who lives in France knows, there are lots of jours fériés in France in May – 1st May, 8th May, Ascension Day and Pentecost. This is nice in some ways because life seems to work at a slower pace on these days though it can be a bit frustrating when the changing opening hours of shops catch you out.
When I was a girl living in the West Riding of Yorkshire, Pentecost – or Whitsun as we usually called it – was a very special day. You dressed in your best clothes (including one brand new item) and went round the district in a procession, headed up by someone playing the piano on the back of a lorry and singing hymns of rejoicing. Then the best bit – back to chapel for tea and buns. Sadly since the UK decided to move to a fixed Spring Bank Holiday, Pentecost seems to pass many people by.
That is a great shame. When you read about it in Acts, it is such a powerful occasion. Jesus had promised the disciples that they would receive the Holy Spirit but I don’t think any of them could have envisaged what actually happened – that they would be able to communicate with people in their own languages. People listened to them in amazement.
The speech Peter makes is particularly impressive. Here was an ordinary fisherman who, in the past, had often got things wrong and misunderstood what Jesus was telling them. He had deserted Jesus at the last minute by denying three times that he was a follower. Yet here he was suddenly making a speech proclaiming that Jesus had risen from the dead as foretold in the Bible by Joel and David and urging people to become baptized and follow Him. Peter’s message was so powerful that Acts records three thousand people were added to the followers of Jesus on that one day alone.
As we look at the world today in the midst of the horrors of the Covid pandemic, with conflict raging in Jerusalem and with the many injustices and inequalities suffered by people, it is even more important to remind ourselves of Jesus’ teaching and to carry His good news to all parts of the world. The disciples had despaired when Jesus was crucified, thinking it was all over and yet in a few short weeks their lives were turned upside down as they realised that, through them, His mission was just beginning. Do have another look at Acts 2 over the coming days. It gives us hope for the future.