THOUGHT OF THE WEEK – 1 June 2020
A very good morning to you. Today, we welcome in another week, another month and another liturgical season. Today we remember Justin, Martyr of Rome who was martyred in AD 167. This week is Pentecost Week and also Reconciliation Week of Prayer. We continue to commit ourselves to pray for the ongoing work of reconciliation.
The Opening Canticle (A Song of God’s Marvellous Acts)
I will sing a new hymn to my God:
O Lord you are great and marvellous, you are marvellous in your strength, invincible.
Let the whole creation serve you:
for you spoke and all things came to be; You sent out your Spirit and it formed them: no one can resist your voice.
Mountains and seas are stirred to their depths:
rocks melt like wax at your presence; But to those who revere you: you still show mercy.
The Opening Prayer
The night has passed and the day lies open before us; let us pray with one heart and mind. As we rejoice in the gift of this new day, so may the light of your presence, O God, set our hearts on fire with love for you; now and for ever. Amen.
Justin, Martyr of Rome (d.c.167)
Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Justin of Rome triumphed over suffering and was faithful even to death: grant that we, who now remember him in thanksgiving, may be so faithful in our witness to you in this world, that we may receive with him the crown of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Holy Father, God of Love, You are the Creator of all things. We acknowledge the pain and shame of our history and the sufferings of our peoples, and we ask your forgiveness. We thank you for the survival of Indigenous cultures. Our hope is in you because you gave your Son Jesus to reconcile the world to you. We pray for your strength and grace to forgive, accept and love one another – as you love, forgive and accept us through the sacrifice of your Son. Give us the courage to accept the realities of our history so that we may build a better future for our nation. Teach us to respect all cultures. Teach us to care for our land and waters. Help us to share justly the resources of this land. Help us to bring about spiritual and social change to improve the quality of life for all groups in our communities, especially the disadvantaged. Help young people to find true dignity and self-esteem by your Spirit. May your power and love be the foundations on which we build our families, our communities and our nation, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.[i]
Our Bible Reading this morning is taken from Acts 2:1-21
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tonguesas the Spirit enabled them. 5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” 13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” 14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
A Marvellous God
This is a powerful and exciting passage reporting the Holy Spirit coming down mightily upon all of the 120 disciples gathered together in the upper room on Pentecost Day.
We hear about the thunderous roar from heaven like a mighty windstorm that filled their house. Flames like tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of the disciples. Everyone of them was filled with the Holy Spirit who enabled them to speak in other languages so loudly that the crowd in the streets outside could hear them.
This international crowd gathered in bewilderment and utterly amazed to hear the disciples declaring the wonders of God in our own dialects!
From this passage, I can learn three lessons.
First, I learn that my God works in unpredictable ways. God is God and he is beyond our understanding and His ways are beyond our imagination. God reminds us of this fact in Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Don’t box God in. We tend to do this because we expect Him to act in the way we want Him to. This is how we usually pray. We have already though out a plan or method on how God will answer our requests. How many times have you experience that God answers you in unexpected ways? Let God be God and allow Him to do the unexpected in your life. We need to have the prayerful attitude of letting God’s will be done in life as it is in heaven.
Second, I learn that my God is a faithful God. He always fulfils His promises. Peter in Acts 2:16-21 said that the pouring of the Holy Spirit is the fulfilment of a promise that God gave prophet Joel about 800 years ago. It also fulfils a recent promise of Jesus in Luke 24:49, “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
Jesus repeats this promise in Acts 1:4, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before.”
Sometimes, we may feel that God is not fulfilling a promise of His. The Bible tells us that, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake.”[ii]
God is faithful and all His promises will come to pass. I need to learn to rest in Him – fully trusting Him.
Third, I learn that my God wants to use us as the witnesses of His salvific love. Here in Acts 2, we see the disciples using various languages to speak about the wonderful things God has done.
In both Luke and Acts, when Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the coming of the Holy Spirit, He also said that they will thus be His witnesses. From Acts 2 onwards, the Church began to grow because the disciples went about witnessing the love and salvation of God.
Apart from us whom He had saved, God has no other witnesses in the whole universe. Can you imagine this incredible privilege and tremendous responsibility? We are enabled to do so only through the power of the Holy Spirit. May we be such a light for God that others may see our lives and give glory to God.
Let us Pray:
Almighty God, at the feast of Pentecost you sent your Holy Spirit to the disciples, filling them with joy and boldness to preach the gospel: empower us with that same Spirit to witness to your redeeming love and draw all people to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The Morning Collect
Eternal God and Father, by whose power we are created and by whose love we are redeemed: guide and strengthen us by your Spirit, that we may give ourselves to your service, and live this day in love to one another and to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. May we rekindle the gift of God within us.
Thankyou. A very good morning to you.
[i] Wontulp Bi-Buya Indigenous Theology Working Group 13 March 1997 Brisbane, Qld.
[ii] 2 Peter 3:9