St Peter's 13-18
This weekend was Pentecost which, to many Christians, is a sort of Birthday for the Church. Pentecost comes right at the end of the season of Easter with its start and endpoints coming at the same time as two, much older, Jewish festivals.
In Judaism, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Passover or Pesach, remembers the time when Moses led the Hebrew people out of slavery in Egypt. Fifty days after Pesach comes the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot which is a harvest festival. These have become important moments in the Christian calendar too because Jesus died and rose at the time of Pesach and then, fifty days later at Shavuot, the Holy Spirit descended on the first disciples and they began to spread the message of Jesus to a whole host of people from different places and nations and who spoke in different languages.
The Feast of Pentecost takes its name from the fifty days between these two festivals, which always leads me to wonder what the early disciples had been doing in all that time. Well, soon after Jesus’ death, the disciples appear to have effectively gone into hiding. The story of Pentecost then starts with the line, “they were all together in one place,” so it looks like for fifty days between Easter and Pentecost, the disciples were in lockdown … sound familiar?
What had initially driven the early disciples into lockdown was fear but at Pentecost the appearance of the Holy Spirit told them that it was time to go out and begin to speak the peace of God to a whole host of different people in communities whose lives had ever changed in those fifty days. I wonder how they felt? I wonder how you feel as we ease lockdown restrictions and begin to take back into the world what we have learned and experienced in these last few weeks.
For the early disciples, their time away had taught them that they were to see the face of God in both friend and stranger. Having been with just a few people for so many weeks, they were now ready to face the other peoples of the world with a renewed joy. My prayer for you is that, as lockdown restrictions ease, you too may find yourself heading out into a world transformed: a world in which you too can see more of the face of God in everyone that you meet. May you find joy in everyone whose path crosses yours, knowing that their very presence is a gift to you, just as yours is to them.