June brings us to Pentecost or Whitsun as it used to be called. This is when God the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus’ followers and gave birth to the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Let us consider the events of the first Pentecost Sunday recorded in the New Testament. It was not until ten days after Christ went up to heaven that the Holy Spirit came down upon the Church. One morning, Jesus’ friends met together to pray as usual. Suddenly the roar of a rushing wind filled the room where they were sitting. Leaping flames touched their heads, and they felt that God was very close to them.
The special helper, God’s Holy Spirit had come. They began to praise God and at once they found themselves speaking in different languages which God’s Holy Spirit made them able to do. Their excitement soon drew a crowd around them. People from many counties had come to Jerusalem for the Jewish festival of Pentecost. They were amazed to hear Jesus’ friends talking about God in their own languages. Some people thought they were drunk.
Before Christ went up to heaven, he had chosen the first ministers of the Church. He had charged them to teach, to baptise, to forgive sins and to celebrate the Holy Eucharist. Yet at first, they did none of these things - they waited for the fulfilment of Christ’s own promise - for the power that had to come from on high. They waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit - the comforter - the Lord - the giver of life. After the descent of the Holy Spirit all that changed. The Apostles at once began to carry out all the instructions that Christ had given them.
When the Holy Spirit came down upon Jesus’ disciples it gave the Church its real start in the world. The Church can be said to be Catholic because it is to be found throughout the whole world where it preaches universally and completely the Christian Gospel. Now the Church as the Temple of God, the Holy Spirit, is not only Catholic and universal but also Apostolic. For the Church can trace its origin to the Apostles of Christ. Thus what the Church has to say about Jesus Christ comes from the Apostles. They were witnesses who testified to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. After the outpouring of the Spirit the Apostles were sent as Christ’s messengers not only throughout all Palestine but through-out the world. Their purpose was to gather into an international fold all such as should receive the Good News.
Your Friend and Parish Priest
Father David has just published a book on his personal experience of being a Black Vicar in the Church of England having served many different parishes from rural to inner-city and a lot of things in-between. He writes movingly from his experience.
MISSION, ANGUISH AND DEFIANCE is a carefully written book that deserves careful reading. £12.00 from Charlestown and Par churches. (£2.00 goes to church funds)