Pentecost

Readings for this week May 29 – June 2
Click here for a pdf of this week’s readings

Day 1 – Why Are We Waiting?

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Acts 1:1-5

It’s the most spectacular event in history. Jesus has been raised from the dead. He has returned from beyond the grave. All that he said and did suddenly takes on a new, deeper meaning. He starts to explain things to his disciples, showing how he is the fulfilment of scripture and how his resurrection vindicates him and his message, a message of salvation and redemption and new life that now needs to be proclaimed to the whole world. The urgency of the task is undeniable. The good news must be preached, people must be saved, God must be praised. And so naturally Jesus immediately commands his disciples to….wait.

It might seem counterintuitive for Jesus to tell the disciples to wait, but he knew that the task before them was huge and wasn’t one they would be able to begin (never mind actually accomplish) without help – in fact, without a special ‘helper’ to guide them and give them strength and wisdom for what was ahead. So they needed to wait until all was ready.

Waiting requires trust and patience, but it has a purpose. It emphasises the importance of our dependence on God and submission to his plans and his ways of working. We need to continually take the time to seek God and wait upon his prompting, not as a way of avoiding action, but of focusing our action. Waiting on the Lord together also binds us closer to each other and creates community, which is especially important as the task before us is one Jesus has given to the community of his followers.

Questions to Consider
How do you wait upon the Lord for guidance and instruction? How does your community do this together?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, thank you for your guidance and encouragement to us as a people. I know you will always guide us, but help us to remember to seek you first. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – The Power of God

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Acts 2:1-4

The disciples had been promised that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them. They had had to wait, in obedience to Jesus’ command, but wait they had. And in that upper room what Jesus had promised came to pass: the Holy Spirit descended upon the followers of Jesus gathered in that room. A momentous event in the history of God and his people.

But it was not just an event for those people. The Holy Spirit is given as a gift to all of God’s people, in all times and all places. So that obviously includes us. Some of the creative power of God himself comes from heaven to earth and does its work here – and does it through us, all of us. The aim is to transform the earth and the people in it through the power of heaven, beginning with the hearts and lives of the followers of Jesus in community – the spirit comes to unite, not divide. And then, filled with the spirit, the community of Jesus is to begin the task of transforming the earth and all that is in it.

We are to be God’s Spirit-empowered people, his co-workers in restoring his creation, sharing the good news of Jesus, healing, prophesying, spreading the message of God’s love, all under the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. And it is this same spirit that is available to us today.

Questions to Consider
How is the Holy Spirit an active presence in your life? What would be different without his influence and input in what you do?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of your spirit. Please fill me again with your Holy Spirit and guide me in my day/week ahead. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – God’s Community Open to All

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Acts 2:5-11

One of the great dangers the people of God face is giving in to the seemingly ubiquitous human desire to only associate with those people who are similar to ourselves – or even worse, to demand that others conform to be like us. But God’s redemptive community is not limited to one race or group or class of people. Visitors to Jerusalem were surprised to hear the apostles and other followers of Jesus speaking to them in their own tongues. The point being illustrated is that no matter what people’s race, nationality, culture or background, God speaks to all, because God is for all. If there is any conforming that should be happening it is all of us, whoever we are, wherever we are from, whatever our makeup, being conformed to the likeness of Christ – a likeness of loving acceptance.

Although it may be a natural inclination for us to want to only associate with people similar to ourselves, and to believe that God only speaks to us and those like us, it is an inclination that we must fight. God is inclusive and all-loving and he wants us to be the same as him. In this case God used a miracle to help make his point, but now that we know, we don’t need to wait for whatever miracle God may or may not provide us with. The community of God is open to all and we play an important part in showing this to the world, through our openness and our love for others, regardless of who they are or where they come from.

Questions to Consider
How does the fact that the gospel is for everyone change the way you live? What is there in your words and actions that shows that you believe that God is for everyone?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, help me to remember that your love is for all, not just those I know or am comfortable around. Help me have the same openness to others as you have to me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – Remembering the Bigger Story

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Acts 2:22-36

As astounding as the life, death and resurrection of Jesus were, even to those who had travelled with him for the years of his public ministry, they were not events that just happened out of the blue, completely new and unconnected to anything that had gone before. Peter and the other disciples found themselves re-examining and re-evaluating the story they were a part of in the light of Jesus, and then sharing their new-found understanding with others.

Sometimes, in the busyness of our lives and with the limited view we have, it can be difficult for us to see where we fit into God’s larger story, or even that we fit into this story. But we do. And so does everyone around us, even if they do not realise or acknowledge it. We must always remember the part in the story that other people have to play, even if they aren’t aware of it yet. As much as God is intimately concerned with us as individuals, he is also concerned with ensuring that we remain mindful of the larger story around us. By continually telling and retelling the larger story, we will not only remind ourselves of God’s loving faithfulness to us, but also, like Peter, find a deeper way of sharing the story of God’s love with others so that they too can understand the story, their place in it, and the nature of the loving God who has promised to bring all things to a glorious conclusion, and who wants us to be active participants in what he is doing.

Questions to Consider
How does your story fit into God’s larger story? How would you explain ‘the whole story’ to someone who didn’t know it?

Prayer
Father, help me to always see the bigger story that encompasses my own. Help me show others how they are a part of your story too. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – What Spirit-Centred Community Looks Like

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Acts 2:37-47

Being part of God’s community will change us, as individuals and as a community. The transforming power of God’s spirit working within us – all of us – brings us closer together, transforms our relationships, and gets us more deeply involved in each other’s lives. This isn’t an option. We may enter community as unknowns to start with, but once we have been in community for a while if we are still unknown to each other and our lives a closed door to all others, then something is wrong.

The community of faith we read about in today’s reading wasn’t something limited to maybe once or twice a week. It was a way of life. Their example shows us Jesus’ plan for his community of followers. They met together every day. They got heavily involved in each other’s lives. There were a number of things they did when they met—eating, praying, teaching and worshipping. These central elements of life they did together, and this was the central way in which God’s spirit transformed them and bound them together.

This sharing of meals and possessions, and praying together—these were not the actions of a group of people who only knew each other slightly. They show that true community spirit—sharing the whole of life together— began to happen. They were the actions of people intimately involved in each other’s lives and bound together by faithfulness to God.

Questions to Consider
How is your life an open door to others? How could you be more involved in the lives of those in your community?

Prayer
Loving Father, help me share more of myself with my community and help my community share more of you with the world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)