Acts 2 and Ephesians 5: 18-20
(This text was used as a basis for two interactive talks delivered in two halves over an All Age Communion Service)
Family Time One:
All the time at church we talk about God… and we know that God is a great big God –
a God who is three persons – we call this Trinity.
We often talk about God as Father, we pray to God, we sing songs to Him.
We often talk about Jesus – his life and death and resurrection…
but we’re not always very good at talking about the 3rd person –
the Holy Spirit.
This morning we’re thinking about the Holy Spirit – who is the Spirit, what does the Sprit do.
So, I have hidden round church 4 items that are going to help us as we begin to think a little bit about the Holy Spirit.
Invite the children to have a look and see what they can find.
(bottle of water, oil, a picture of a dove, a box of matches!)
Ok – so what have we found:
Water – so the Spirit is often described as water – as God’s living water – people can drink of it and be filled with it. Water is essential to life – it sustains life, water washes and cleanses. Without water we die. Jesus stood up and told his hearers, “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 them. And by this Jesus meant the spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time, the spirit had not been given, because Jesus had not yet been glorified.”
Oil – The Spirit is often linked with oil…. In the bible we can see that as people were anointed with oil they received God’s presence with them… his Spirit inside them – making them strong, giving them gifts and skills, making them brave.
Dove – When Jesus was baptised by John – were told that God’s Spirit came down from heaven and rested on him… and it looked just like a dove alighting upon Jesus.
Fire – many times throughout the Bible Gods presence appears as fire…Moses meets with God in the burning bush…Ezekiel has a vision from God surrounded by fire… and so the Holy Spirit is also connected with fire… When the Holy Spirit came on the early church it appeared to be as tongues of fire.
And one more… now I couldn’t really hide this thing… but I can show you with pictures…
Wind – The Spirit is described in the Bible in the OT Hebrew as Ruach and in NT Greek as Pneuma – both words means breath, or wind. And again, when the Spirit touches people in the Bible there is often a gushing breathe or stormy wind.
So, the Spirit can be linked to water, oil, a dove, to fire or rushing wind.
What else do we know about the Holy Spirit?
- The Spirit was involved at Creation – Genesis tells us that the Spirit brought order out of chaos and gave life to human kind.
- The Spirit came upon particular people at particular times for particular tasks. Time and time again the Spirit came on people like Gideon, and Samson, Rachel, Isaiah, and Ruth plus many, many more. Giving them gifts, skills, strength, power and leadership, so that they could get a job done and help others.
- The Spirit was promised by the Father… all through the OT the Spirit is promised in a new way. God says, ‘I will put my Spirit in you… I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh’. ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all people.’ However, these promises, or prophecies remained unfulfilled for at least 300 years.
- Until the coming of Jesus when there is a great activity of the Holy Spirit. The holy Spirit comes upon Mary and Jesus is conceived. Elizabeth also knows the Spirit upon her and John the Baptist is filled with the Holy Spirit.
- Jesus himself is surrounded by the Holy Spirit – the Spirit comes on him as a dove as he is baptised. He is described as being full of the Holy Spirit and Jesus says he is the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me – because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.
- And Jesus predicts the Spirit’s presence. Jesus after his death and resurrection, before he ascends to heaven, tells his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the gift promised by the Father – the Holy Spirit. This gift will enable them and equip them – give them power to be witnesses.
And that brings us to our first reading today….
Which Gill is going to read for us now.
This story we now refer to as Pentecost – the out pouring of the Holy Spirit on everyone – men, women, children in the most amazing way.
From this point the Spirit is for all Christians, not just a few – the Spirit is for the whole church, for you and for me.
And the Spirit is given to help us – to comfort us – to be our friend – to guide and to lead us – to help us be more like Jesus.
The Spirit gives us gifts and helps us to grow.
The Spirit makes us strong and brave that we might share God’s love with others.
For now, we’re going to pause and sing our next song… Our God is a Great Big God.
Family Time 2:
In recent weeks we’ve been thinking about our Vision and Values here at All Saints.
Our vision – our hope – our desire is to be a welcoming, growing, vibrant church for the community of Denmead.
We want to be a people who KNOW God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and worship Him each day.
We want to be a people who GROW in our faith, becoming more like Jesus through prayer and Bible study and trust in God.
And we want to SHOW God’s love by serving our community and telling them about Jesus…that there is hope.
And to do that, to be that sort of church we need to be loving and welcoming, generous and prayerful, ready to share God’s love, we need to take seriously God’s word the Bible – and the truth and guidance that gives to us… but also very importantly we need to be those who are Spirit-filled.
A people who depend on the Holy Spirit – that we might grow in our relationship with God, that we might become more like Jesus, that we might grow fruits in our lives and experience power, strength and boldness to tell others about Jesus.
The Apostle Paul had a dramatic encounter and was filled with the Spirit… his life was changed and he made a significant difference to the spread of Christianity. However, Paul didn’t do so in his own strength, rather he depended upon the Spirit to equip him and fill him and give him strength for his work. And as he wrote to other new Christians encouraging them in their faith, he told them to be filled with the Spirit.
Fritz is now going to bring us our next reading – Ephesians 5: 18-20
Here Paul is telling the Ephesians that they too should be filled with the Spirit.
And the word that he uses for ‘be filled’ is in the present, continuous tense –
so it’s not set in the past… and it doesn’t just refer to something once in the present,
rather it means go on being filled, over and over and over again with the Spirit.
Being filled with the Spirit isn’t a one-off experience – it is part of daily living…
Look at the balloon I am holding… I think it is a very nice balloon.
It’s a pretty colour, red is one of my favourites, and by looking at the shape of it, I think it would be a very nice round balloon.
But there seems to be something missing from my balloon? Can anyone tell me what the balloon needs?
You are right – it needs to be filled with air!
Before a balloon can fulfil its purpose, be what it is meant to be… someone must breathe some life into it.
And I think this balloon helps us picture/learn something about the church.
We heard earlier the amazing story of Pentecost – the day that God sent his Holy Spirit to breathe life into His church so that the church would be all that God intended for it to be.
Before God sent his Holy Spirit, the church was waiting — like this balloon.
The church was not witnessing and telling people about Jesus.
After the Holy Spirit breathed life into the church, people began telling everyone they saw about Jesus.
It didn’t even matter if they spoke the same language. They told everyone about Jesus and they understood.
Thousands of people were added to the church.
The church became alive and was doing the things God had commanded.
And we want to be a church that is alive – vibrant – growing – doing the job we’re supposed to do… to be light, to be truth.
Now I have a balloon for each of you…
I want you to take your balloon and — as you breathe life into it — remember that just as the balloon needs to be filled to be what it was intended to be, you and I need the Holy Spirit to fill us so that we can be all that God wants us to be.
We’re going to finish now a little differently – I’m going to lead us in a prayer… a prayer in which we say YES to God’s Spirit – a prayer in which we invite the Spirit to fill us afresh and to be at work in our lives. And as I lead this prayer, if you would like I’d encourage you to very simply hold open your hands, as though you’re receiving a gift, a sign that you are open to God and his Spirit in your life.
Lord God we thank you for sending your Holy Spirit on your church breathing in new life and power. We ask now that you would fill us afresh with your Spirit – that we might be full to overflowing. That you would equip us and empower us to be a vibrant church for this community. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
We’re going to stand now to sing our next song: Holy Spirit We Welcome You.