The English word ‘enthusiasm’ does not, generally speaking, have religious overtones. It is most likely to be used in the context of sport or some personal interest. But in fact it comes from Greek words meaning "possessed by a god". The special kind of zeal or ardour that results from divine inspiration is exactly what the disciples display in this week’s passage from Acts. Possessed by the Spirit of God, they displayed such 'enthusiasm' that passers-by stopped to stare, and concluded that people acting in this way in a public place must be drunk.
The Feast of Pentecost is observed six weeks after Easter and commemorates this event. Though it no longer has anything like the same profile as Christmas and Easter, even among practicing Christians, it is in fact the third major festival of the Christian year, and no less important than the other two. Why is it so important?
The answer lies in today’s Gospel. The passage begins with a request – ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied’. Everyone who has a feel for religion can hear the deep longing that Philip expresses. But Christ’s answer -- 'Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’ – contains a salutary reminder. We can fail to be satisfied with the truth.
The Spirit that took possession of the disciples, John tells us, was expressly sent by Jesus – ‘The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you’. It is in Truth, Peace and Love that this Holy Spirit is to be found. While it is to be understood as a gift, it is not given ‘as the world gives’. The spirit of truth, love and peace raises human beings to their finest level, but it does not lay any store by accomplishment, popular endorsement, or vindication in the eyes of the world. All these are things to which both societies and individuals lend great importance. That is why we are so prone to reject the gift of Holy Spirit, and keep on looking elsewhere and for something else.
The lesson to be drawn is this. While we should work at being successful wherever God has placed us, if this truly Holy Spirit is to ‘abide in us’, we must not let our hearts 'be troubled' by worldly aspirations, or 'be afraid' of worldly failure. Peter's new found mission, of course, is a shining example of just what this means.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
Christ Church Morningisde
6a Morningside Road
Edinburgh EH10 4DD
Tel: 0131 229 0090 or
07718 278 145
OFFICE HOURS: MON-FRI 9AM-3PM
* service not yet resumed