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Sunday Service 19th May




Call to worship

Hymn 619 & 620: Spirit of the living God


Talk for all  


Hymn 599: Holy Spirit hear us 


Reading: Acts 2: 1-13   Peter

Prayer                          Peter

Reading: Acts 2: 14-21 Peter


Hymn 600: Spirit of God





Hymn 465: Be thou my vision 




Welcome to our meditation for 19th May.

This Sunday we celebrate Pentecost. Pentecost basically means 50 days.

And it wasn’t initially a Christian celebration, it was a Jewish celebration.

It came 50 days after Passover.

In Passover the Jewish people were freed from slavery and of course they celebrated that.

50 days later they celebrated the giving of the ten commandments.

Passover gave them freedom; Pentecost gave them direction for their freedom.

And the same thing happened with the disciples.

But we will reflect on that after Peter leads us in our prayer and readings for today.










Usually my service preparation is very simple.

I start off with the reading; that gives me the source of my message.

Then I write the sermon.

Then I write any prayers that I have to do, basically round the message of the sermon.

Then I pick the hymns that should fit in with the message of the sermon.

And last, but by no means least, I pick one basic point from the message and write a Children’s address round that.

It is a system that works for me.


But this time it didn’t work that way.

Because of reasons that aren’t that important, I had to write the children’s address first.

So I am looking at this passage, a passage that I struggle with anyway, and I try to think of something simple to say about something rather complex, the coming of the Holy Spirit on the disciples.

How was it going to be any different than Jesus coming to see them?


And then a simple idea comes into my head.

How were the disciples different after they had seen Jesus,

and how were they different after the visitation of the Holy Spirit?


And it hit me like a ton of bricks.

After the visit of the Holy Spirit the disciples cared more about others than they did themselves.


It was so simple, yet to be honest I had never really noticed it before.


Think about it.

Jesus is seen by Mary first of all. She is comforted by that.

She goes to the disciples who don’t believe her.

Mary is changed by the meeting, but nothing in the world changes.


Then Jesus turns up in front of the disciples in a locked room.

They get all excited about it; tell Thomas that they have ‘seen the Lord.’ 

Thomas doesn’t believe them.

The disciples change, they get excited, Thomas doesn’t change.


Then a week later Thomas is with the rest of the disciples and they see Jesus.

Now Thomas has seen Jesus and he changes.

But that’s it. Nothing else changes.


All the followers of Jesus feel so much better about themselves.

But that’s all that happens.




I am reluctant to say that they are selfish,

but effectively the only people to benefit from the rising of Jesus

the greatest thing that has happened in the history of the world,

is that the disciples and a few followers of Jesus feel good about themselves.


From what we can gather, what happens next is that they drift back to Galilee.

Maybe the lease of the upper room has run out and they don’t know what to do.

Maybe they have just got bored and don’t know what to do.

Maybe their resources run out, remember Judas was in charge of the money and he was now gone so the money would have run out.

They are in crisis, and in crisis we tend to go back to what is familiar, so Peter decides to go back to fishing,

they have to eat and to eat he has to work.

So the rest of the disciples go with him.


There Jesus meets them again and tells Peter to feed the lambs.

But nothing then happens, nothing changes.

Maybe Peter took that to mean that he had to look after the other disciples.

We don’t know.

We do know that nothing has changed.


Then disciples then go back to Jerusalem to celebrate the day of Pentecost.

And there something dramatic happens.

And the dramatic thing is not them speaking in tongues.

The dramatic thing is not flames of fire hanging over their heads.

The dramatic thing is that they stop thinking primarily of themselves, and start thinking of others.


They have experienced God’s love, God’s care.

Now they realise that others need to hear that just as much as they did.

That is the wonderful change that happened to the disciples at Pentecost.

They were given the gifts, the vision, the incentive, the courage, the belief...

to reach out to others and talk to them in their own language.


I want to talk to you about this.

And I want to talk to you about this through the idea of the ‘The one that you grieve for.’

This is an idea that comes from the thoughts of Daryl Cripe.

Daryl resists the idea that there is a method of growing churches; especially the old ideas of

maybe having praise bands,

maybe having revival meetings,

maybe changing the way we do worship.


And instead sees the problem as a discipleship problem.

That the churches haven’t been growing people to be disciples.

Here’s the thing, many would then see that as the new method for growing churches... having discipleship courses.

And Daryl resists that.

Discipleship is not about going through a training course.

Discipleship is living the faith.


And to do that we have to have ‘the one we grieve for’.

This is a very simple idea.

That we have in our life someone that we care deeply enough for, someone that does not believe in Jesus.

And we grieve for them because they may not see Jesus in their future.

They don’t have Jesus’ comfort when they are struggling.

They don’t have Jesus’ wisdom when they are making life changing decisions.

They don’t have Jesus’ compassion when they see others suffering.

They don’t have Jesus’ courage to say sorry when they are wrong.


And we grieve for them because we know that is not the best life for them to live.

Now here’s the thing.

These people are not a project.

The object of our friendship is not to get them to church, they are not a means to an ends.

Our friendship with them is not conditional on them coming to church.

Our commitment to them, our friendship with them, is because we care more about them that we do about us.


If they never come to church, if they never move any closer to Jesus than they are now, then that will never stop us from being their friend, for wanting the best for them, for being there for them.


Too often we think evangelism is about getting people to church.

People see through that.

If people think that the only reason we are befriending them is to get them to church, then they will see that as the selfish thing that it is.

In that mind-think the church is more important than they are.


The future of the Church is not what this is about.

This is about other people, people that we care about; grieve for, because they are not living the life they could be.

And if we can bring that life a bit closer, then we will do anything we can to do that, because we care.


There is a truth and a strange thing,

The truth is that if we are in an authentic relationship with someone we don’t need to bring up our faith or our beliefs.

If we are in an authentic relationship with someone over months and years, they will bring it up. They will ask us about why things are happening in the world. Trust me, just now the whole thing about where is religion in the Holy Land just now doesn’t stop coming up. And I better have an answer for them.

To be honest my answer is that that has nothing to do with faith that cares about others, and more to do with power.

I then go on about how I try to use faith in my relationships and not base them on power.

We can talk about faith when they bring it up, but until then the relationship is just about them.


And here’s the strange thing.

They may not change, but we will.

When Daryl was working on this idea of ‘the one that we grieve for.’ and living it out by just having friendships with people that he cared about. He found that his faith changed, his discipleship changed.


It started when he was praying that God would guide him to who his one, or two or three. Those that he could love enough to commit his time to them.

He says that it is one prayer God will always answer.

Then he was just their friends, he would go to their children’s baseball games, he would have meals with them, he would want to know what they were interested in.

Here’s the thing, these people are never strangers. God has already been working away, and he leads us to care for people we love.


Then we get involved in their culture.

This is a natural thing. If you care for someone you care for the things they care about.

And if you are in their lives you get involved when they are struggling.

You celebrate when they are doing well.


And Daryl found that they influenced him more than he influenced them.

He knew what unconditional love was, because he was loving them no matter whether they changed or not.

I will hear church leaders, and sometimes myself, talk about how draining caring for others is.

And you know, if I was being cared by someone that thought I was draining, then I would sense that, I would know that....and I wouldn’t want their care.


You see the difference in hospitals between the nurses that do it because it is a job, and those that do it because they care.

For those that do nursing because it is a job, it is something they feel they have to do, they can’t wait to be doing something else,

but those that do it because they care, they have a different attitude completely, they don’t want to leave you until you are felling better.


Daryl found that attitude changing within himself. That those he cared for were no longer a duty...a challenge...a drain, they were the reason he lived for.

His faith was no longer theory, scriptures were no longer theory; they were real.

He was challenged, he was changing.


When I first went to Castlemilk West I was the young minster on the block, I was there because the congregation wanted me to bring in the young people, the church of the tomorrow. Well that is what they said.

Until I got a lot of new kids in the church, and suddenly the church changed.

‘Those kids are too noisy, they are disrespectful, they need to change.’

They wanted children in the church, but only if they were the right children behaving in the right way.


This passage is very clear.

The disciples didn’t go out to force the people to change into being like them.

They spoke to each of them, in their own language, in their own culture, in the lives that they were facing.

Because God wanted to be with those people in the lives they were living.


It is time for us to change.

But we do that by caring.

Who do we grieve for?

If we don’t know, then pray to God and he’ll point them out to you.

Then just care, care enough to be in their lives, care enough to want to make a difference  for the better.

But be warned, they may not change, it may be that God has put them in our lives because we need to change.

























Let us pray

Heavenly Father

It is difficult to come to terms with the messiness of Pentecost,

all those languages, all those people, all shouting and trying to understand what was going on.

We forget that everyone there was trying to find purpose and meaning,

they were there for the festival of Pentecost

to find the rules to live by,

to find a structure to follow.

We forget that they had come to the festival hoping that their lives would make more sense after the worship than before,

that maybe they would be challenged,

maybe they would be comforted,

maybe they would find insight that world make a difference.


In a sense nothing has changed.

We have a world out there where suicides are on the increase because people struggle to find meaning.

We have a world out there were drugs are prevalent because people are trying to drown out the sadness of their lives.

We have a world out there where there is still a need for purpose and meaning, where people are still trying to make sense of what is happening.


The disciples needed to care more for others than themselves for the message and the hope to spread.

The disciples had to leave where they felt safe, behind locked doors where no one could touch them or threaten them, and go to where the people were, in the streets, out in the open.


Help us to love, help us to care for someone more than ourselves,

to want the very best for them,

to be open to who they are and to love that person, rather than to love the person they could be.

To have a heart that accepts them, and who wants to help them and is willing to change for them.


You have called us to be shepherds, to search out the lost sheep, until they have been found.

May we be true to that calling.



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