Pentecost is celebrated 50 days after Easter Day. It recalls the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples waiting in the upper room for this promised gift.
Some of you will remember, as I do, growing up with Whitsunday being the name of the Sunday recalling the giving of the gift of the Holy Spirit. ‘Whit’ Sunday, or ‘White’ Sunday was so named because of the white garments worn by those who were to be baptised on that day.
My memories of Whitsunday are that we always had new clothes to wear for church that day, so very exciting! Tradition has it that these new clothes were always white, though I have no memory of that being true for me.
Another memory I have is of being made to learn by heart Acts ch.2 v1-6, where the awesome power of the Holy Spirit is described. I can still remember it!
The giving of the Holy Spirit marked the beginning of the ministry of the disciples as they began ‘to make disciples of all the nations.’
It was only in the power of the Spirit that they were able to begin their work.
But how to describe the Holy Spirit?
There is immense power in the Spirit.
The Evangelist Luke describes noise, rushing wind and fire.
The Apostle John reminds us of ‘a still small voice’ when he speaks of the Spirit as peace, truth and forgiveness.
For the Apostle Paul, the Spirit is about giving… giving a variety of gifts to the church for its upbuilding.
The Holy Spirit then can be a gentle presence, a powerful presence, an active presence. Any of these manifestations we may experience when we pray for the Holy Spirit to come into our lives.
‘Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your people and kindle in them the fire of your love.’
And that’s the message. The Spirit is not compelled to make His home in us.
We can only ask.