Acts 2:1-21

Readings for this week May 4 – 8
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Day 1 – When the Waiting is Over

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Acts 2:1

“When the day of Pentecost arrived they were all together in the same place.” Jesus had told them to stay, to remain in Jerusalem and to wait. And so they did, remaining in the city, most likely hiding out in that same upper room they had used for celebrating the Passover. By the time of Pentecost, an agricultural festival marking when farmers would bring the first fruits from their crops as an offering to God fifty days after Passover, they would no doubt be rather on edge. They had to remain in Jerusalem and wait, not knowing that it would be fifty days after that Easter weekend and they would still be waiting. Fifty days of secrecy and fear, of prayer and waiting upon God, but also of moments with Jesus as he shared with them – and then he disappeared again, apparently for good this time! Was that it? He had told them to wait but what on earth was coming next?

This time would be the formative moment in the new community of God’s people. Just as the festival of Pentecost reaches right back to the formative moment in Israel’s past, the Exodus from Egypt, so the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon the followers in the upper room was to prove decisive in the forming, shaping and empowering of the church. We can see the pouring out of God’s Spirit upon the disciples, inspiring them to witness powerfully to the resurrection of Jesus and, from that very first day onwards, win more and more followers to the way of Jesus Christ – the beginning of a great harvest of people.

Questions to Consider
What is the importance of Pentecost? What does it mean to you?

Prayer
Almighty Father, thank you for your promises, which give us hope for the future, as we look back to the past and the ways you have been faithful to previous promises made to previous generations. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – The God of Surprise

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Acts 2:2-4

I’m not sure what the followers of Jesus were expecting as they waited in the upper room, although I’m fairly certain that even the events of the previous weeks – never mind the previous years – may very well have prepared them to be ready for anything to happen. So many times they had assumed they knew what Jesus was doing and what was going to happen. And so many times they were wrong, so many times the unexpected or amazing happened and they (very) slowly came to understand that God was doing something beyond what they were ready to understand. They had seen Jesus crucified and buried, but they had also encountered the risen Jesus, had seen him and touched him, and were therefore aware of how world-redefining the events they were experiencing were. Anything could happen.

God is the God of surprise. However much the disciples may have thought they knew what was going to happen, whatever their expectations, they probably still knew enough to realise that whatever was going to happen next would be life changing, world changing even. Their waiting, their prayers, their seeking of God was about to be met with something outrageously wonderful, something quite unlike anything that had come across before. The time taken to wait was important: time to slow down, to prepare, to open up. To realise finally that even in the midst of uncertainty and fear, God was in control in ways they couldn’t see, preparing for them and their world good things they couldn’t imagine but that they would have a hand in bringing about.

Question to Consider
How have you experienced God as the God of surprises?

Prayer
Lord God, you are the God of surprise, the God of new things, the God who calls people to you in order to call all people back to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – For Everyone

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Acts 2:5-13

As much as the Spirit of God is given to all followers of Jesus, and as much as the Holy Spirit resides in each of us, guiding us, strengthening us, empowering us, and as much as we are to live each moment of our lives under the direction of the Spirit (and all of this is absolutely true), we must remember that the Spirit of God was poured out on a community of people so that those people, and all others that would join them, could be the community of God. The Spirit is a communal gift for all, living in each one of us for the benefit of all – and for the glory of God.

The Holy Spirit is a gift that God longs for all people to accept. The giving of himself on the cross through Jesus the Son was for all, whether people acknowledge it as such or not. The pouring out of his Spirit on all people is the offer God makes to all people, whether they accept the gift or not. The gathering of so many people from so many nations, the speaking and hearing of so many different tongues was a sign of the universality of the love of God and of the declaration of this love that was placed upon the hearts and lips of the followers in the upper room. The Spirit that lives in each one of us lives in us all, for the purpose of bringing us together, binding us closer to each other, and closer to the One we follow, the one we imitate, and the one we are daily being transformed into the likeness of by this same Spirit.

Question to Consider
How has the Holy Spirit been transforming you into Christ-likeness through other people?

Prayer
Gracious God, thank you for calling us together and giving us a part to play in forming each other into people of God. Continue to bind us together as one people for the sake of those who have no people. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – People Waiting for Us

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Acts 2:14-21

When we look at the wider story of the coming of the Holy Spirit, and in particular this passage covering the first interaction between the newly Spirit-filled disciples and a crowd of people on the street, what we discover is the story of God-fearing ‘people of peace’, people who are open to the movement of God and who are keen to hear the gospel. What we see in this passage is Peter (and the eleven with him) sharing the message with a large crowd of people who are already in Jerusalem, having come from all over the known world to be in the city at festival time; Luke describes them as ‘devout’. We have already seen that they were transfixed – but also perplexed – by the powerful words of God they heard coming from the disciples, and in their own languages no less!

These are people who are open to the work of God, who have in whatever ways already been searching for God before even encountering the new believers freshly emerged from the upper room. These people are ready and willing to hear the gospel of Jesus, and also the call to accept him as Lord and follow him into mission in the world. The call that we have heard and answered is a call that we ourselves are to offer to the world. We may find ourselves surprised when we share openly and honestly with others that many of them are already looking, already seeking God in the world and are just waiting for someone to come alongside them, sit down with them, and share their story and the wider story of God.

Question to Consider
Who do you know in your life who is already seeking after God?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, lead me to the people of peace who seek you and want to know you. May I share your call with them, and may we travel into your world together to share your message with all. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – A Reminder of God’s Ultimate Rule

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Psalm 2

Psalm 2 is a messianic psalm, one that heralds the coming of God’s anointed one, his chosen one rising up from among his chosen people, to restore Israel to its former glory and to bring peace to the nations and the world. It serves as a declaration of God’s sovereign domain over all the earth, as a promise of the coming of his rule and the establishment of his throne, and therefore as a warning to those who rebel against him, and as counsel and comfort to those who follow him. It is a psalm that declares the rightful rule of God and the promise of the fullness of his coming kingdom. It is a reminder of the reality of God’s rule.

In the person of Jesus we see the fullness of God. To see Jesus is to see God; to look at Jesus is to know what God is like. He is the anointed one, the true king of this world, the one who conquered death, reconciled creation to God and ascended on high, now sitting at the right hand of God awaiting the final consummation of creation and the coming of the age to come. This is the one we follow, the one we obey, the one we love. He is the one who has promised to be with us until the end of the age – we must not forget this. He opens himself up to us, pours out his Spirit upon us, and welcomes us into his kingdom and also into the work of his kingdom.

Questions to Consider
What does the kingdom coming look like in your neighbourhood at the moment? How has God been moving in your household and your neighbourhood lately?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, show me your ways and the ways of your kingdom. Show me how to love as you love so that your kingdom can grow in people’s hearts as we work to be your holy people, for your glory and for the salvation of your world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)