Pentecost and Mission

Reflections on the Readings for Sunday 12 June 2011
Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-31, 34; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23

I recently read that when we speak of the Church having a mission, we are putting the cart before the horse. It is Jesus Christ’s mission on earth which has a church. In the words of Jesus: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Jesus’ farewell gifts to his disciples are peace, the Holy Spirit, the power of forgiveness, and a commission.

The Feast of Pentecost celebrates the outpouring of the Spirit which marked the birth of the Christian Church. With symbolism reminiscent of the giving of the covenant at Sinai, and with effects that suggest a reversal of the divisions between people-groups enacted in the Tower of Babel story, the fledgling church was empowered by the Holy Spirit to bear witness to what God was doing. But this does not mark the beginning of the Spirit’s activity. The psalm reminds us that wherever there is life and renewal, the Spirit of God is at work. Christians do not have a monopoly on the Spirit of God, but their lives and communities ought to mirror and bear witness to God’s presence through the Spirit in a particularly potent and focused way.

What does it look like when the Spirit of God is manifest in an individual and a community? Any life which declares that Jesus is Lord, in other words, which incarnates that which Jesus stood for and which reflects his passion and his mission, is evidence of the Holy Spirit at work. The Spirit works in different ways in and through different people, but it is the one God at work and the one mission that is being accomplished. Both the Pentecost story and Paul writing to the Corinthians stress the uniting effects of the Spirit. Old divisions are overcome. Just as in creation there is a dizzying diversity which nevertheless contributes to a harmonious whole, so we, who are so diverse, are brought together by the Spirit. As we follow in Jesus’ footsteps and live out his mission – God’s Spirit at work in and through us – together we can become church.

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About Jessie Rogers

I'm a Scripture scholar and Godly Play practitioner living in Ireland.
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2 Responses to Pentecost and Mission

  1. Colin says:

    Again, a beautiful reflection on Scripture.
    Particularly:
    “Any life which declares that Jesus is Lord, in other words, which incarnates that which Jesus stood for and which reflects his passion and his mission, is evidence of the Holy Spirit at work”.
    And:
    “As we follow in Jesus’ footsteps and live out his mission – God’s Spirit at work in and through us – together we can become church”.

    In China recently I had the opportunity to speak with folk who were rightly skeptical of religion and what they knew of Christianity was that it was just another foreign religion. But the two lines I just highlighted were my simple gospel approach. God the creator, speaking to us as one human family, calls us to be restored and forgiven by Jesus … and in the process we have a people who are his own, reflecting Him dimly, but growing into His likeness. It was attractive and simple and well received among the people I spoke with. No clutter!

    Thanks again for your ministry Jessie.

  2. jackie says:

    yes jessie together we can become the church.i like the reality of that

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