April 23, 2018
We normally think of Pentecost as the event described in Acts 2: The coming of the promised Holy Spirit, falling on the followers of Jesus, forming them into a community and empowering them to spread the good news. But the Holy Spirit was not only at work then. The Holy Spirit is now at work turning persons to Jesus Christ and transforming their hearts and lives. Because of this, John and Charles Wesley can speak of Pentecost not only as an event in history but as a reality in the lives of Christians. A hymn by Charles illustrates this:
Sinners, your hearts lift up,
Partakers of your hope!
This is the Day of Pentecost;
Ask, and ye shall all receive;
Surely now the Holy Ghost,
God to all that ask shall give.
Of course the Holy Spirit is already at work, in the lives of all persons. But those who are seeking Christ can receive the Spirit as a living presence, bringing joy, peace and love. This is not for a limited few but for all, because of Jesus Christ:
Ye all may freely take
The grace for Jesus’ sake;
He for every man hath died,
For all hath rose again;
Jesus now is glorified,
Gifts he hath received for men.
The death and resurrection of Jesus makes salvation possible for all. But this salvation is not simply life after death, it is new life in Christ. This is Christ’s gift through the Spirit:
Blessings on all he pours,
In never-ceasing showers;
All he waters from above,
Offers all his joy and peace,
Settled comfort, perfect love,
There is a joy and peace which the world can neither give nor take away. There is an assurance that one is a child of God. There is a faith that enables us to both know and trust in Christ. And there is love—love born in the heart, governing our lives, healing relationships, motivating action, and enabling us to begin to see others and our world as God sees it. And this is all rooted in God’s love for us in Christ, a love which nothing, not even death itself, can take from us.
This gift of new life is so wonderful that Charles has to move from proclamation to prayer and exhortation:
Drop down in showers of love,
Ye heavens, from above!
Righteousness, ye skies, pour down,
Open, earth, and take it in!
Claim the Spirit for your own,
Sinners, and be saved from sin!
May we claim and continue to claim all the life and love of God through the gift of the Holy Spirit.