Of all the holidays, May Day is one of the most ancient for traditionally this has been the time when people have celebrated the life and death of the seasons, renewed growth and fertility or simply rejoiced in being alive.
But for Christians, the month of May is far more important because Sunday May 15th is the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) – the day the church was born.
After his crucifixion, Jesus’ followers were hiding in fear of their lives behind locked doors until he appeared to them and dramatically changed their lives (1Corinthians 15).
He had promised his disciples that following his death he would rise again and he would be with them always (Matthew 28).
Not only that, but he would send the Holy Spirit, God himself, to live within them and he would give them the power and the confidence to proclaim that Jesus was alive.
In those famous words in St. John’s Gospel, they had been ‘born again’ (John 3) and so as they met together to learn and to pray, as they witnessed together, even at the cost of their lives they discovered a new relationship with God (Romans 5: v.8) and with other believers (Galatians 5).
Instead of being conformed to the passing fashions of a pagan world, they had become transformed by the life of Christ within them, and it was this which made them so attractive and threatening to others (1 Peter 2), because they could see that there was something different about these Christians. They had something, or rather someone, whom they did not know and whenever that is the case, the Church grows.
For as the Christian author John Stott wrote: “For without the Holy Spirit, Christian discipleship would be inconceivable, even impossible. There can be no life without the life-giver, no understanding without the Spirit of truth, no fellowship without the unity of the Spirit, no Christ likeness of character apart from his fruit, and no effective witness without his power. As a body without breath is a corpse, so the church without the Spirit is dead.”
So let us, this Pentecost, pray together:
‘Faithful God, who fulfilled the promises of Easter by sending us your Holy Spirit and opening to every race and nation the way of life eternal. Open our lips by your Spirit, that every tongue may tell of your glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.’
With best wishes, Charles Jefferson