On Pentecost Sunday I shall be able to enter my home church and worship there with others. For more than a year our members have been meeting via Zoom for worship, prayer and bible study, but this Sunday being able to worship in the church building will feel very different.
We shall hear the story of that day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts chapter 2. We shall pray fervently for the Holy Spirit to come upon us as we gather together indoors on this special Sunday in the Christian calendar. We shall listen to a sermon that will no doubt encourage and inspire us. But in the congregation, we shall all be wearing masks; we shall not be permitted to chat with one another. Most difficult of all, we shall not be able to sing. These are the rules laid down for our protection against the invisible coronavirus.
Thankfully, after the service indoors is ended, we shall pour out to the car park where we shall be able to sing! We shall face out to the street and with the sound of music from our talented organist seeping out through the door, we shall raise our voices in celebration of the good news of our faith. We shall proclaim the gospel to anyone who will be in earshot and will do so with grateful hearts and a desire that all may know the truth that the Holy Spirit reveals.
Imagining the scene reminds me of those first apostles who, having received the Holy Spirit in tongues of fire and with the sound of a mighty wind as they were gathered together indoors in Jerusalem that day, then poured out onto the street. There they discovered they were bold enough to declare that Jesus Christ who was killed had risen again to eternal life, and was (is!) indeed the Son of God. The crowds in the street that day heard the message and responded ‘What then shall we do?’ (Acts 2:37)
Centuries later, John Wesley, whose own special day we celebrate on Monday 24th May, was also prompted by the Holy Spirit to go outside the church buildings and proclaim the gospel wherever he found the people who would listen. He preached in the streets, in the fields, in the towns and cities and villages, outside the church buildings, wherever the people were in need of hearing the good news.
I believe God is still calling us to go outside our church buildings and to share the good news. The Holy Spirit will empower us to do so as we make ourselves open to the call of Christ to ‘go and make disciples’.