World

Pentecost Every Day

May 23, 2021 by

As the weather warms, COVID restrictions start to lift, and school draws to a close, many of the people I meet each day express a desire for more human interaction, for chances to talk with others. This last year has had more than enough separation and isolation from family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. But through it we have hopefully learned our need for one another – that we actually depend on having others around to talk with.

I thank God for this longing to gather and connect because when we are with others in fellowship, in big or small groups, and share what concerns us and what excites us, then God’s spirit can work. Through sharing we find healing from the brokenness and pain we experience in life, because Jesus promised that “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matt. 18:20). When Jesus is present, the Holy Spirit can work mightily!

WEmbed"Serious conversations." Peter Worsley, oil on canvas.

We know from the Gospels that at Pentecost the Holy Spirit descended on the gathered believers in Jerusalem and opened their eyes and hearts to see God at work. For many more – another three thousand people from many lands and backgrounds – that day brought about a complete change and turned them to seek a new life through repentance and believer’s baptism.

As a pastor of an international church, my wife and I are fortunate to experience the presence of this same Spirit often as we have contact with people from around the world. To encourage you, I want to share a few experiences from this past week that show how God is powerfully at work today in people’s lives.

In our community, we witnessed six young people joyfully give their confession of faith and become baptized into the body of believers. It reminded me of those three thousand lives changed in a day, but also of the thousands every day who are committing their lives to Christ in the global body of believers.

Last weekend I learned that a good friend and brother of our community in Paraguay, an eighty-five-year-old pastor, passed away. He was a genuine and compassionate peacemaker who worked tirelessly for the kingdom of God. We will miss him, but already others carry on his mission. As Revelation says, “they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” (Rev. 14:13).

A friend of mine living in Israel, struggling to make sense of the current conflict, still has a glimmer of hope for peace. We had emailed to encourage him, but it was actually he who restored our faith in the future of that land.

My wife and I spent time with parents of a high school student who is battling a lifelong illness. As parents, they are struggling with how to support and encourage their child and yet treat him like a normal teenager. We were touched by how their faith gives them courage and upholds them.

Another fine spring morning I visited an older brother in our church. This man has terminal cancer, knowing his days are numbered. (Actually all of ours are!) I found him full of life and spirit, determined to give all his energy and strength of soul and body to witness to God’s love and mercy.

A twenty-nine-year-old COVID “long-hauler,” who has suffered for over a year, attended our Sunday service and told her story of how, with the support of her family and friends and by the grace of God, she has pulled through a year of sickness. Although she has still not fully recovered, she lives in hope for that to happen. Her husband (they had only been married eight months when she got sick) stood faithfully at her side.

Of course the Spirit works in joy as well as in suffering. This week a young family in our community welcomed healthy twin boys. We thank God for his protection over the mother and her sons! Each new life is a sign of God’s love for this world.

In each of these encounters, we catch a glimpse of the eternal and of God’s spirit, which is alive and at work in each soul, no matter what a person’s race, age, or faith. The Holy Spirit dwells in each heart, and if we take the time to meet one another – to sit down and talk over a cup of coffee, or even just to pick up the phone – we can experience Pentecost every day!

So my prayer this Pentecost is that Jesus again pours out his comforting Spirit on those who are lonely, suffering, grieving, homeless or in poverty, struggling with family breakup, or caught in the escalating conflict in the Middle East or elsewhere. And in the meantime, I thank God for every small sign of his healing, and answered prayers.

At the first Pentecost, the apostle Peter quoted from the prophet Joel to the gathered crowd: “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men will dream dreams” (Acts 2:17).

God promises that he will send his spirit to all people, young and old alike! That should encourage all of us that no matter who we are with, God can be present in our encounters. The small victories I experience in my daily work give me hope and expectation that God’s spirit will once again be poured out even more generously, and that the Holy Spirit will continue to gather souls together. It doesn’t matter whether it happens in churches or in family households, in a building or a park, by a river or on a mountaintop – anywhere people can meet together, break bread, read God’s word, encourage one another, laugh together, and inspire one another to keep serving God by serving others.

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About the author

Paul Winter

Paul Winter

Paul Winter serves as the Elder of the Bruderhof. He lives with his wife, Betty, at the Maple Ridge Bruderhof.

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