St Thomas Anglican Church, Howrah & St Barnabas Anglican Church, South Arm, Tasmania
Affirming lives, reflecting the hope we have in Jesus
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Sunday 31st May 2020: Pentecost Sunday
THEME: Trinity, part 3 (I believe in God the Holy Spirit)
SENTENCE OF SCRIPTURE:
God has poured out his love into our hearts by his Holy Spirit whom he has given us. Romans 5:5
Acts 2: 1-21: the Day of Pentecost
Psalm 104: 26-36: the life-giving Spirit
John 14: 15-27: the promise of another Paraclete
SERMON: “I believe in God the Holy Spirit”
It was the Last Supper and Jesus was reassuring his anxious, fearful disciples that although he would have to leave them God would never forsake them. He spoke these words of comfort, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Paraclete, to be with you for ever.”
What on earth is a paraclete? It is the New Testament word that is variously translated comforter, advocate, counsellor, encourager, helper or friend. It literally means someone who is called to be beside us.
Note that Jesus described the promised Holy Spirit as “another paraclete”. By implication Jesus was calling himself the original paraclete, the one who stood beside his disciples. He was their rabbi, their teacher and master, but unlike other rabbis he led and taught from beside his disciples. He was not behind them, cracking the whip and driving them like cattle or slaves. He was not out in front impatiently outpacing them. He was beside them, understanding their struggles and answering their questions. But he was more than a shoulder to cry on. He saw their potential and he took them beyond their comfort zone but always standing by them. Jesus went on to tell them that God the Father would send the Holy Spirit as a replacement for him. As the other paraclete the Holy Spirit would carry on Jesus’ work as the rabbi or disciple-maker.
So what did Jesus the rabbi teach his disciples? He taught them how to really love:
- How to love God their heavenly Father
- How to love one another in God’s family: to get on with each other, to forgive one another, to be a team and to build one another up
- How to love those outside God’s family: to bring God’s love to a lost human race and to make them his disciples too.
So when we read the Book of the Acts of the Apostles we see the Holy Spirit at work alongside Peter, Paul, James, John, Barnabas, Lydia, Priscilla, Dorcas and the others. He is encouraging, empowering, guiding them to share the love of God throughout the world to Jews and Gentiles, to men and women, to kings and beggars, to the upright and the fallen. Still today the Holy Spirit carries on Jesus’s work in your life, in the life of our church and in every corner of the world. Following Jesus takes us outside our comfort zone but we are always safe because the Paraclete, the Spirit of God, is always at our side.
THE TAKE AWAY:
We’re familiar with famous last words like Ned Kelly’s “Such is life”. But no greater truth was spoken with their final breath than that greatest and most influential of Englishmen, John Wesley, whose last words were “The best of all is God is with us! The best of all is God is with us…”
Through his Holy Spirit God is with us, in us and among us. He is on our side and we are on his side. He is at our side when we feel guilty or frail or worthless or defeated and whispers “You are my beloved child”. He is at our side when we are complacent and elbows us in the ribs and shouts “Get up and get cracking!”
FOR YOUR PRAYERS:
For the Holy Spirit to stir up each of us to fully commit to God’s Mission here and abroad, remembering to support our missionary Kate in South Asia and being prepared to say “Here I am Lord. Send me.”
For the Holy Spirit to unite us as a team as we help one another grow as disciples and make others disciples of Jesus
For the Holy Spirit to encourage, guide and stand beside us as we go beyond our comfort zones
For the Holy Spirit to inspire musicians, writers, artists, designers, producers, performers and craftspeople to use their gifts to glorify God
For the Holy Spirit to comfort the struggling and to shake up the complacent
FROM THE MINISTER:
As our government eases covid19 restrictions in stages we can start to meet in small numbers being mindful of the principles of handwashing, physical distancing and protecting the most vulnerable. At this stage groups that meet in church facilities are limited to ten. Please contact me if you have any queries, also if you would like me to drop by for a visit.
Parish Council met last Wednesday night. As well as the usual reports we started looking at the implications of the pandemic crisis on the future of pastoral care and evangelism in our parish, which is our core business. We need to be proactive about this, so please pray about this and if you have any thoughts about it have a chat to a Churchwarden: Barry, Hilary or Neil or another Parish Councillor: Andrew, Raelee, Lesley, Stephen, June, Kate or me.
Worshippers at St Thomas’s, when you eventually return, will enjoy improved lighting as a result of electricians replacing the old fluorescent tubes with cost-effective and easy-on-the eye LED lighting.
Finally, please keep praying regularly for a new Rector. This is from our Prayer book:
Bountiful God, give to this parish a faithful pastor
who will faithfully speak your word
and minister your sacraments;
an encourager who will equip your people for ministry
and enable us to fulfil our calling.
Give to those who will choose, wisdom, discernment and patience,
and to us give warm and generous hearts,
for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.
With the love of Jesus
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