Pentecost. Remembered by the church as the day the disciples met the Holy Spirit, the book of Acts describes the events vividly. There was the sound of a ‘violent blowing wind’ and an outpouring of tongues – flames on the heads of those in the upper room, fire in their souls and the sound of holy prayer pouring from lips made newly clean by the blood of the Lamb.
This was no quiet and reflective moment of contemplative prayer, but a very public presence of power and Acts 2:6-7 tells us: ‘When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans?”’
Jesus had returned to the Father, but the Holy Spirit – the helper he promised – was sent to us. And the very first thing the helper did was to bring those outside, inside. Those who were not in the inner circle, in the house with the disciples on that day, had their attention drawn to it, were compelled to run towards it... and found themselves represented there in the tongues of their homelands – though they came from far and wide.
A place of protection and justice
The first thing the Holy Spirit did was to include the diversity of people – pointing out that the one-time-covers-all sacrifice of Jesus, that gave us the freedom to come into the presence of the Most High and call him Abba, is for all. For anyone who would receive him (John 1:12), we are invited into a position of relationship and rights and inclusion – a place of protection and justice.
Again we read in Romans 8:15 that ‘This Spirit we received does not make us slaves, so that we live in fear again; but calls us into a place of sonship’. However, even from within the church, there are occasions where we have enslaved each other. By our action or inaction, we have stolen back – or not protected – the rights of those who perhaps don’t sound like us, or look like us, or share our way of thinking.
As humanity, we are frail and all of us fall short, but we have a helper who does not abandon us, so let us not get tired of seeking out injustice on purpose and of showing mercy.
It is the power of the Holy Spirit that encourages us, as Tearfund and as the church, to tackle injustice. It gives our staff strength to keep working to make sure that those who are outside are called inside – that they are understood and their needs are met.
Pray with us
By your Spirit, working in us and through us, enable us to speak out to loose the chains of injustice and to set the oppressed free.
By your Spirit, dwelling in us, give us courage, wisdom and power to set captives free – whether that captivity is to poverty, to oppression or to discrimination.
By your Spirit, as you draw us into your presence, may we hear your voice, experience your love and learn to love one another fully.