Pentecost Message 2017

Pentecost - New Creation

Protestant Pentecost altar, courtesy of Wikimedia FoundationProtestant Pentecost altar, courtesy of Wikimedia FoundationThe Priestly account of creation in Genesis 1 starts with a scene of utter chaos. Thick darkness covers formless void. Then, the Spirit of God hovers over the face of the deep and God brings order to unfathomable chaos. God speaks meaning into being; ordered purpose displaces formless void. This is the dawn of creation whose yield we remember from time to time in harvest festivals and other celebrations of nature.

Each year, we also remember the act of God at the dawn of the new creation. Frightened people huddled together in an Upper Room experience a new eruption of the Holy Spirit's power to inaugurate a new creation. The Spirit moves over the face of another chaotic situation and brings into being a new order. Through Peter, God announces Good News of the salvation made possible through the risen Lord and the church develops a deep consciousness of itself. Or, as we love to put it, the church comes into being. That which was in the mind of God from before creation fully reveals itself in the face of a bold, fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

This is the reason we celebrate at Pentecost: God does not abandon disordered creation. Because God loves so deeply, such a thing is impossible. God renews the creation and opens wide the door to new life for all who ask, "What are we to do?" Hearing God’s answer, our hearts are enlightened and we find the wisdom to say, "We now turn. We now repent." Then, we plunge into the soothing waters for incorporation into Christ.

Baptized in the name of the triune God, we experience the miraculous power of the one who makes all things new. God places eternity in our hearts. We discover not only the renewal of our identity as individuals. We also encounter the depth and breadth of the gift of relationality that is ours. We are more than individuals; we are persons. Together with others, we now have the joy of participating in a new community. Baptized in water, we experience the descent of the same Spirit who was with Jesus at the River Jordan.

The Holy Spirit leads us to repent of sin and turn to God in Christ and we experience the promised new creation. We share in the new humanity that God brings into being. This new community that emerges is caught up in the purposes of God; it is an important instrument in God’s hand to light up the world with the Gospel message and to fill the earth with the glory of God.

Pentecost is indeed a time for celebration. Through our celebration, may many people now estranged from God come to experience the joy and the transformation that Pentecost brings.

Neville Callam
General Secretary
Baptist World Alliance

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