Mission Central (Pentecost)

Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As I have been sent, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20: 19 – 22)

In the early days of the Pentecostal movement, a few of its missionaries went to foreign countries fully expecting to receive the gift of instant fluency in native tongues, just as the disciples at the original Pentecost did. Needless to say they quickly realised they would have to learn the language just like everyone else. While no one can credit them for their faith, zeal, and even courage, their story reflects what can happen because of an over-literal reading of scripture.

Pentecost is one of those events that’s prone to too-easy interpretations. The preacher’s well-worn fallback line, “it’s the birthday of the church,” is an example. But if we leave the cake at the door, you’ll see the solemnity offers a rich description of how to be church and do mission.

Where to start? Trust Jesus. Jesus said he would send his Spirit, and he did. What to do? Cultivate the many gifts of the community in ways that begin and end with the common good. Let the Spirit be your guide: live according to it, not to the self-centredness, “the flesh.” And don’t forget to forgive – that’s as sure a sign of the Spirit as any.

All posts