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The Trinity – Lockdown, Faith and Freedom
Acts 2. 1-13
In this season of Lent, we confront the sufferings of Jesus, his crucifixion and ultimate resurrection. To gain a clearer understanding of his earthly teachings however, we must realise that everything in his ministry was pointed to the ‘will of the Father’.
Ultimately, as the Creed reminds us, ‘we believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting’. Christ died so that we might have life and in order that an even greater power might be wrought through all his followers ever since. This is the power of the Holy Spirit that transforms the Church wherever it exists.
Dramatically the traditional Pentecost reading reminds us ‘the disciples were all in one place (verses 1 and 2) when all of a sudden there came a sound like a mighty rushing wind and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit’ (verse 4). As Christians we are called to celebrate God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is central to the belief of all Christian churches throughout the world.
As a boy, I was brought up reciting the creed every Sunday. As I grew older and through much study, I came to a fuller understanding of the meaning of the words that introduce the Christian creed. The coming of the Holy Spirit on the first disciples is often thought to have taken place in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. This was when God breathed his breath upon the first followers of Jesus. In our Sunday school books of old we have the powerful (and frightening) image of tongues like flames of fire resting on the heads of those who witnessed this amazing experience at first hand. They were never the same again.
It is true, when God touches people’s hearts, he also transforms their lives. A situation of complete fear and utter despair became one of renewal, hope, and real conversion. During my time working with the churches in Jerusalem and the Middle East, I had the wonderful opportunity of visiting the Cenacle, the site of the Upper Room in Jerusalem. It is as one would expect. It has a tangible atmosphere of stillness and holiness surrounded as it is by the hustle and bustle of the noisy souks and markets of the old city just outside. Yet, it is also a very ordinary room, impressive in its architecture and fulfilling in the mind’s eye the traditional image from the famous painting of Leonardo da Vinci.
There is not one of us that cannot change or be changed. Not many of us have such an amazing life changing experience as the first disciples. An experience that draws us out in to faith is rare. We are often blessed, however, in simple ways through the influence of another person. This could be a teacher, a minister, a writer or a friend who completely changes our own way of seeing things by their faith and example. It does not matter how it happens but, St Paul promises, if we believe, we are being ‘transformed by the renewing of our minds’ (Romans 12.2). If we allow ourselves (and our lives) to be the clay in the potter’s hands (Jeremiah 18.6) – we are in some way touching the hem of Christ’s garment. As friends and members of Christ’s body, the Church on Earth, we are being continually drawn in to the power of knowing God’s love.
We can be born again in to the liberating freedom that is God’s gift to us through the power of Jesus Christ. The disciples were ‘all in one place’. All of us are ‘in one place’. The experience of the pandemic we have been travelling through, the isolation from loved ones, the closure of our church buildings, the lockdown at first seem like obstacles to our belief. All these things, however, do not prevent us from closing our eyes or putting our hands together in prayer and believing.
Whereever you are at this time, believe this – God is with you. The death of Christ did not destroy Christ. Christ himself destroyed death. ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but, have everlasting life’. (John 3. 16).
There are no physical walls or doors that can hold back the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s love for you. May you know the joy and powerful peace of Christ’s Spirit.
Reverend Anthony M. Jones, F.R.S.A, Parish Minister: Fort Augustus & Glengarry Churches.