The children at Sunday School learned all about Pentecost tonight, as the photograph shows! They had their own tongues of fire to illustrate the narrative from Acts 2:1-8.
Jesus taught about the living water the Holy Spirit would bring even before His death: “On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood up and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” (John 7:37-39) As we celebrate Pentecost today, the fulfilment of that promise, we reflected on the fact that we need to be thirsty, to come to Jesus and to drink. Only then can we live life out of the overflow of God’s living water.
Ps 63:1 and Ps 42:1-2 both reflect the fact that spiritual thirst is the first step to receiving the Holy Spirit. If we are content with life lived in our own strength, we will never live life out of the overflow of God’s living water (Ps 36:8-9). We need to hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matt 5:7) and to draw from the wells of salvation with joy. (Is 12:3) Jeremiah warned against the dangers of forsaking the springs of living water and making our own cisterns (Jer 2:13); we need to be desperate for God and to thirst for His Spirit if we are to move from self-dependence to God-dependence.
As we come to God to drink, we need to exercise faith. Jesus said, ‘Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.’ (Jn 14:12) ‘Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ (Jn 7:38) Faith is the key ingredient to receiving from God: ‘without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.’ (Heb 11:6) We need to let go of faith in ourselves and our reliance on ourselves and trust in God. ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.’ (Prov 3:5)
This sounds (and is) simple, but we tend to find it very complicated. We feel we are not worthy to receive the Holy Spirit. We are not: God gives His Spirit as a gift, not a wage for good service. We are unsure if God really wants to bless us. Jesus taught us, however, of God’s desire to give and to bless. (Luke 11:9-13) We need to be convinced of God’s desire to give and believe that in Christ, every promise God has made is ‘yes’! (2 Cor 1:20)
Come and drink
As we thirst for God and believe His word, all we then have to do is to come and drink. The first disciples had to wait for the Holy Spirit to come. They had to wait for Jesus to die on the cross to deal with our sins. They had to wait for Him to rise again from the dead as proof that His sacrifice for sins was acceptable. They had to wait for His ascension, for Jesus to be glorified, so that the Spirit could be poured out. Those things have now happened and so we benefit from the Day of Pentecost, for we too can now come and drink from those living waters which turned the world upside down in the 1st century and can do so today as we believe, come and drink.
Today’s Dinosaur Day at Phoenix Park saw crowds turn out on a beautifully sunny afternoon for a family fun day organised by Big Local Thurnscoe. Dearne Churches Together took part in dinosaur crafts and digging for fossils:
There were animatronic dinosaurs to see:
Crowds of people also enjoyed walks with alpacas, a dog show, a dinosaur trail, learning about making dens from the Conservation Volunteers and much more.
There was even a very strange leader looking like a very hot dinosaur…
John spoke this morning from John 5:1-15 about being at the back of the queue.
Queuing is seen as being quintessentially British – so much so that the Royal Mint, in their A-Z of what is British, put ‘queue’ for the letter Q! Sometimes we are quite happy to queue, but most of the time we find it tiresome, whether it is waiting in a queue on the telephone, waiting in shops or being stuck in traffic queues for hours on end… Apparently, we spend about 5 years of an average life in a queue!
A queue is in some ways a hierarchy of entitlement. Those at the front of the queue are seen as privileged, advantage, often rich. Those at the back of the queue are disadvantaged, poor or, as in the case of this man, disabled. We talk of ‘Postcode lotteries’ regarding healthcare and schools, so if we are at the back of a queue, we feel we are less important, less deserving or insignificant.
The man in this story had no way to get to the front of the queue, but the presence of Jesus rendered this unimportant. He didn’t need to get into the pool to be healed, because Jesus healed him there and then. Clearly, he had tried in his own strength to get to the pool of healing and so often we try to rely on our own strength, instead of letting God sort things out. We need to learn to trust God.
In Mark 5:21-24, we see the story of the woman with the issue of blood and Jairus’ daughter. Jairus, a leader, had no trouble getting to the front of the queue to speak to Jesus, but the woman had to push through the queue to reach Jesus. Her determination and persistence were what is needed, and we too must seek God and desire God with all our hearts if we are to receive from Him.
In Mark 2:1-12, four friends are not put off by the crowds, but find a way through the roof to bring their friend in need to Jesus. Their support and help were needed for the paralysed man to come to Jesus and be healed. We are called to support one another in faith and prayer.
In Acts 3:1-10, we read of a man for whom there were no queues. He was left at the Temple gates, forgotten and apparently forsaken. He probably felt that his opportunity for healing had gone, for Jesus was no longer present. He may have felt there was no future for him, but Peter and John prayed for him and his life was transformed. We too need to be confident in God. We so often feel we have missed our opportunities in God and write ourselves off. God never writes us off, however. We are never at the back of the queue as far as He is concerned, for He has given us all free access to His presence (Heb 4:15-16)
The Dinosaur Day is finally here! We will be joining with many other community groups at Phoenix Park (Thurnscoe) between 12 and 4 p.m. to take part in Big Local Thurnscoe’s Dinosaur Day. This is a community event featuring animatronic dinosaurs, live animals and lots of family friendly activities including baby dinosaurs, bush craft, a dog show, kite making and a dinosaur trail!
Dearne Churches Together will have a table at the event with lots of dinosaur-related crafts and a sand pit where we can dig for fossils! We have leaflets about dinosaurs and some 3D printed dinosaurs to give away! It’s a great opportunity to chat to people and to be involved with our local community, so please do come along if you can.
Holding an annual general meeting is a requirement of the Charity Commission, but it’s also an opportunity to look at what the church is involved in and to pray for our ministries. Last night, we looked at the different outreaches we are involved in (the Parent & Toddler group, the youth club, the coffee morning, meetings at Cherry Tree Court, our support of the Salvation Army food bank and our support of missionary work in India and support of Bedline in Haiti and Amshika in India.) All of these ministries are hugely important and we are very grateful for the volunteers who help to make these things happen (serving faithfully week-in, week-out) and for those who give so generously to support these things. Thanks were also given to church members for their generosity in giving financially to support the church and through Gift Aid.
Alison from the Salvation Army sent a report sharing what is happening there. Apart from feeding over 600 people each month through food parcels and meals at the Army, other services are offered, including a job club, help with welfare rights, a clothes bank and 1-to-1 cooking support. Food is now donated from supermarkets (Tesco, Morrisons, Co-op, Lidl, One Stop, Marks and Spencer’s and Fareshare), enabling food parcels to contain fresh fruit and vegetables as well as tinned food. Each session begins with the volunteers (about 15 regular helpers) meeting for prayer, a thought for the day and a song. ‘Conversations happen, friendships are made and lives are changed‘, Alison says. As a church, we are privileged to be able to buy food and provisions to the value of £60 per month to support this local ministry and we are grateful for the food and clothes donated regularly by our members to help.
Another aspect of outreach is our ‘Dearne Churches Together’ events, which in the past year have included monthly prayer meetings, family fun days at Thurnscoe Pentecostal Church in school holidays, the Christmas Market (which raised over £735 for the Salvation Army Christmas Appeal) and the Good Friday Church Crawl. Again, we are grateful for the good relationships between the local churches and the way we can work together to serve our local communities.
Looking ahead, there are always maintenance issues (we will be looking at some pointing and general building maintenance work over the summer) and we will be holding a cleaning day on Saturday 8th September (between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. approximately). We are looking forward to James and Jade’s wedding on 22 September and to holding a baptismal service in the autumn. If anyone is interested in getting baptised, please let us know.
Most of all, we pray for God’s continued blessing on the church and for us all to grow in faith and boldness as we seek to serve Him.