I have to admit that the struggles to do ministry in the past few days have made me wish that we could go back to the days when we were younger. I wish we could go back to the days when we were not so dependant upon technology as we seem to be these days. In fact, I went 21 years in ministry without owning a cell phone. Sure there were times when I would use my wife’s cell for safety but often, we lived in places that were not well all that friendly to technology. The 40 minutes I spent in the car by myself between places was a change to get away from it all. I freely admit that I miss that.
This Sunday we will celebrate and participate (I hope) in the Feast of Pentecost – the 50th Day of Easter. Jesus came to that same place, to that Upper Room where he had spent his last night with his followers before his arrest, the trials and his crucifixion and death. It was the place of refuge from what might happen to them in the light of everything that happened to Jesus.
Jesus had promised to immerse them in the Holy Spirit for power to be witnesses of his life death and resurrection. We as the One, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, so that his people might draw men women and children into a relationship with him and thus, into his kingdom. Let us keep in mind that Pentecost is not just about the coming of the Spirit but the fulfilment of the promises of God around Easter and what he would do for his people. The Spirit comes to and resides in everyone who believes that Jesus is Lord. And in fact, Scripture is clear that when a person declares Jesus as Lord, they do so through the power of the Holy Spirit. We are called to declare that Jesus is Lord through the whole earth and to serve these whom we find to be our neighbours. As we live and serve the Lord, we make known the reality of his incarnation in us. We do these things with amazing love and incredible power so that people around us might see him in us. The immersion of believers into the life and work of the Spirit is foundational and of first import to the work of the Church here on earth.
As a first step, if we are going to take the message of God around the world, would it not be essential to take this message, this news home first? Many are called to the kingdom and there are a few who are called to lead in that work. God calls whom God calls. The Church like the people of Israel is his people, his royal priesthood, his holy nation and therefore his own possession. The Spirit rests upon all those whoa recalled and believe led by a chosen few. And the power that was available to the Church in those early days is still available today – for you and for me in the exercising of ministries.
We can set people free or we can leave them bound and in darkness by how we live and share the Good News with them. The Church’s failure to make known the Good News means that we fail to bear witness to Christ in the world, leaving people in darkness and unable to grasp just who Jesus is. The Church in those circumstances is unable to participate in the life it thinks it has in Christ leaving it both powerless and lifeless. Maybe that means that we need Jesus to come through our barricaded doors at least one more time so that we have to struggle anew with what it means to declare the Jesus has risen and that means he is Lord. We need to see Jesus in our midst, ready and willing to engage us, to breathe out his Spirit upon us so that we are willing to go and help set people free.
If in the going, there are going to be struggles, issues, and problems; if there are going to be disappointments and plagues, then we must remember that Jesus sent us and he is with us in the going and doing of ministry.