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From the Assistant Bishop

Like Wind and Fire

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The Rt Revd David Bassett  Assistant Bishop

As a body without breath is a corpse, so the church without the Spirit is dead.

At Pentecost (celebrated 19 May) we recall the coming of the Holy Spirit upon all the believers (about 120) and the great empowerment to witness and service this brought.

St Luke in the book of Acts tells us that on that day about three thousand persons were added to their number! I can only begin to imagine the excitement and expectation there must have been among those first believers.

There were some aspects of the Day of Pentecost that were once in history markers and fulfilment of promise. There are other aspects: new life and joy, fellowship and worship, freedom, boldness and power that are ongoing.

The Apostle Peter in speaking to the crowd on that day called people to repent and believe so that they too would receive the Holy Spirit. The wonderful reality is still the same today. When we become Christians we too receive that same Holy Spirit. And, in that Spirit’s power and by that Spirit’s leading, we are enabled and enlivened to be witnesses of Jesus.

Unlike the first disciples, we’re not in a waiting game until the Spirit comes – the Spirit is here! We declare it week by week in the greeting: We are the body of Christ. His Spirit is with us. Are we then living in this Spirit’s power?

Knowing that God’s Spirit has been given to us and is with us should give rise to a confidence in our mission and our proclamation. Sadly, the reality seems to be that the church has retreated due to opposition or because of past failures and what appears to be a more critical society in which we are living. In some ways it looks like the supporters of a footy team who are being thrashed by the opposition who become quieter and quieter and start to leave the stands dejected.

We need some rallying. We need some stirring up. We need a fresh blowing of the wind of the Spirit. So, we pray come Holy Spirit and we recall the good work of the Lord. The hymn by J.R Peacey captures this well.

Filled with the Spirit’s power, with one accord
the infant church confessed its risen Lord.
O Holy Spirit, in the church today
no less your power of fellowship display.
He ends his hymn with this prayer:
Like wind and fire with life among us move,
till we are known as Christ’s, and Christians prove.

It is a prayer that would be good to be on our lips and in our hearts. Come Holy Spirit move among us afresh.

An exciting initiative of the Anglican Church of Australia is its Hope25 campaign, being launched this Pentecost. This initiative will help resource each of us in our specific situation to grow in our witness to the communities in which we live. My prayer is that we will indeed feel a fresh wind of the Spirit as we commit ourselves to prayer, planning and, importantly, the doing.

I know personally, the wonderful joy and encouragement to my own faith that I received when I have been involved with others in sharing faith. I can still remember the first time as a 19 year old leader on a youth camp when one of my group made a commitment to follow Jesus. I have also seen the way in which other members of the church have grown in their faith as they worked together in running Alpha. Yet, I continue to be surprised (although I shouldn’t be) that people so often have said how much they have appreciated being invited by their friends to join Alpha or come to a special event or function. God’s Spirit continuing to work among us!

So, this Pentecost join with me in praying in word or song:

Like wind and fire with life among us move,
till we are known as Christ’s, and Christians prove.
Published in Messenger May 2024

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