On the 7th June our new Diocesan Bishop will begin his ministry among us with a big service at Wells Cathedral. His name (as seems to be a necessity for Bishops in this Diocese!) is Peter. The following day sees the church celebrating Pentecost, which is essentially the birthday of Christianity. You can find this birthday event recorded in Acts 2 in the Bible. As you read it you will be told of the Holy Spirit being poured out on all the believers gathered in Jerusalem. You will read of tongues of fire; of Christians speaking different languages yet understanding each other. It’s an amazing story. What struck me this year as I read the account again was the simple reason for all of this excitement and commotion as the Holy Spirit of God was beginning to move. What was this simple reason?
The apostle Peter (yes another Peter!) gave an explanation to the incredulous crowds gathering. His conclusion was this: ‘God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.’ When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers what shall we do?’ Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off…’
The Holy Spirit was given abundantly to focus the attention on Jesus. He was given to the believers that they might be empowered to tell others of Jesus. And in the power of that Spirit, thousands came to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus. Pentecost is all about Jesus, because the Holy Spirit is all about Jesus.
I hope Bishop Peter of Bath and Wells will exhort us to pray for a fresh movement of the Holy Spirit this Pentecost, as he joins us via a video sermon. I hope he asks us to pray for more of the Holy Spirit, and as we pray let’s pray too that the Holy Spirit would shine an ever brighter light on this Jesus whom God has made both Lord and Messiah. The Christian faith is quite simply all about Jesus: it really is that straightforward. This Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit is for you, your children and in fact for ‘all who are far off’. So whoever you are, wherever you may be with God put the 8th June in your diary and make a date to turn to Jesus, be baptized (if you haven’t already) and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit – you don’t have to be called Peter.