A message for the week starting on Sunday 5 June 2022
Lectionary Week: Pentecost
Prescribed Texts: Acts 2:1-21 or Genesis 11:1-9, Psalm 104:24-35, Romans 8:14-17, John 14:8-27
Pentecostal Renewal Through the Holy Spirit
Focus Text: Acts 2: 14-21
The Pentecost prayer of the Church through the centuries, has been: “Come Creator Spirit, penetrate our inner being, open up all reticent hearts, soften that which has gone hard, bring life where there is death, turn that which is bad into good, render the unwilling willing and the disobedient obedient, move and strengthen our will to bear fruit like a good tree!”
Now usually when we think about things we lack, we wish for more and we contemplate that which causes unhappiness. We, in effect, wish for more control or power. People do like to be in control and quite often that which is familiar, is protected at all cost. More often than not that which is familiar is protected at the cost of change, growth, imagination and vision. This is an accusation that has also been levelled against the Church. The Church has become old and set in its deep-rooted ways. It offers nothing new, nothing to get excited about. So, the question which arises, is whether the Church should be renewed? And if so, in which way? This question is important since change or renewal does not always serve God. Here I can think about changes that take place just because people feel like experiencing something new, or if it suits the preferences of some.
In our text, the apostle Peter refers to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as it was prophesied in Joel 2:28. And this outpouring of the Holy Spirit has a marked impact in that it will cause people of all ages, young and old, to see new things, to have visions and dreams. Thinking about the well-known dream of Martin Luther King Junior, the origin of the dream is quite significant. Martin Luther King’s dream is borne out of pain. It springs from the pain of segregation and a denied human dignity. And this motif of pain is quite important in relation to dreaming, visioning and renewal.
In some theologies, reference is made to a theology from below, meaning that we should strive to hear and understand the Word of God from the view of the suffering. With regard to the response to HIV, such a view could also be helpful. With regard to churches and individual Christians, our dreams and visions can never exclude the suffering since it is through the suffering Christ that we inherited the Holy Spirit, which enables us to dream. Our dreams and visions should contain all the suffering, including the physical, mental and psychological suffering of living with HIV either in our bodies, homes, families or communities.
May we always be under the influence of the Holy Spirit – open to the Word of God that always comes to us in new and fresh ways. During this time of Pentecost, may we all be renewed and bear fruit like good trees. Amen.
To think about: Do your dreams and future plans include the alleviation of the pain and suffering of others?
Written by: Rev. Jacques Jacobs (URCSA), trained Churches Channels of Hope (CCoH) facilitator