“ ‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’”
Acts 1: 8
Acts 1-2 (Psalm 119: 153-176)
The Church comes ALIVE! The Risen Jesus leaves His followers to enable the arrival of the Holy Spirit and His Kingdom’s power, for all in this present age. He left in Glory, He will return in Glory. His Body is now the Church, with a purpose to live as witnesses to His glory and truth. This Church, founded on Christ, the Chief Cornerstone, was then to be built around the Apostles. The Apostles had two qualifications: they were actual witnesses to the resurrection; and they knew Jesus, not just knew about Him (in short they were companions of Jesus). Matthias replaced Judas. In the Anglican Church, Bishops are viewed as being in an ‘Apostolic succession;’ an uninterrupted line of continuity from these Apostles.
The Day of Pentecost, the Feast of Weeks – fifty days after the Passover, a week of weeks. The feast had two main significances: it commemorated the law given to Moses on Mt. Sinai; and it gave thanks to God for ingathered harvests. The Holy Spirit arrived on this day, empowering the Kingdom Jesus brought to earth within the New Covenant (Christ fulfilling the Law). A spiritual harvest was immediately gathered in with 3000 souls reaped through the Spirit enabled preaching of the Apostle Peter. This preaching was an announcement which included teaching, exhortation and application. It concluded with a statement of salvation through Christ alone and gave direction for response. The Church was born and immediately grew!
There are many areas for application that we could focus upon. In this era of pandemic though, I want to focus on the characteristics of the early church; there is much for us to compare in context. 120 became 3120 in one afternoon with no building to call their own; the Temple courts and homes sufficed. There was much to work out in leadership, communication, teaching, structure, care and fellowship. In isolation, reduced corporate numbers, Cords and Small Groups we can empathise and learn.
So, the characteristics to emulate: the early Church was a learning church that dedicated herself to the Apostles teaching; she was a praying Church that sought the Lord in all situations; she was a church that partook in fellowship working out how to stay together; she was a worshipping church ‘breaking bread' together (probably corporately and in homes and probably with meals); she was a sharing church where needs were met by one another; she was a church where things happened, the Holy Spirit was active; and she was a happy church. This Church was on fire, people came to look; they joined!
The Question of Application
How might these characteristics be nurtured and grown at St. Aidan’s or in your home Church? What might you do to enable this?
Lord, help us to wait upon you, so as to be filled with your Holy Spirit. Empower us and motivate us to learn, pray, worship and share in joy filled fellowship where you are active. In so doing may we give glory to you and be a light to our world. In the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
Come, Blessed Spirit (SATB) - Johann Wolfgang Franck, arr. Douglas E. Wagner
Spirit lead me by Michael Ketterer
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.