Posted in Letter
'When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.'
What does Pentecost mean to you? We often refer to it as the birthday of the church. When the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples at Pentecost over 2,000 years ago they changed from a fearful and confused group of people into world shakers and society changers; miracle workers and disciple makers.
For ten days they had followed Jesus’ instruction to ‘wait for the gift my Father promised’ (Acts 1:4), meeting together for prayer. But it was only after they received the gift of the Holy Spirit that they were empowered to do the work Jesus had entrusted to them.
It is important that we remind ourselves that the Church is not the building it is the people. It is the translation of the Greek word ecclesia which literally means ‘called out’ and refers to a gathering or assembly. It can both refer to the universal fellowship of believers as well as a local congregation. During these days of social distancing we need to prayerfully consider what being church looks like, can we still be the church when we can’t meet together?
Many of us are finding ways to engage in Christian worship; at our leadership team meeting this week we were talking about some of the services we have watched on-line or on the television. I hope that each one of us is building time into our week for prayer, Bible reading and worship; we are mind, body, soul and spirit and so for the sake of our health spending time with God each day is so important.
At the moment we are waiting for the Government to give a clear steer on when and how church buildings may reopen and we are also looking at the advice from the URC. However, given the circumstances of the fellowship at Emmaus it may be some time before many, if not most of us, feel it is both safe and wise to join together physically for corporate worship.
In the meantime the leadership team are continuing to explore options. We have discussed how practical it might be to do some kind of on-line service. But to do these well takes a lot of time and technological knowhow that we don’t have; why try to reinvent the wheel when there are so many available? So what is it that we most miss? I guess it is getting together as a fellowship. And how can this be best accommodated in the current situation? We could meet via the internet platform Zoom, which we have been using for our leadership team meetings. It is possible to use Zoom from a phone but this is not as good as having internet access, preferably with a camera and we know that many of you don’t have this.
We would like to hear your thoughts on whether you would welcome an opportunity for a virtual meeting which would include some Bible study and prayer as well as a chance to see each other and have a natter. Would this be something you would want to/be able to be involved with?
Pentecost to me is a time to remember that Jesus promised that he would never leave us nor forsake us, that he would send another, like him, to be with us always. That is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the trinity. The same Holy Spirit who transformed the disciples in the story in Acts is still here today, God with us. Do we recognise Him; do we invite Him to be at work in us and through us?
Paul wrote a beautiful prayer to the Church in Ephesus and I copy it here; it is my prayer for each one of us as we remember and celebrate the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in His church.
'For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.'
Graham and Katy Hill, Local Church Leaders