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May 8

Acts 1, 3-5

Something to read

After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during 40 days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. 'This,' he said, 'is what you have heard from me; for John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.'

New Revised Standard Version

Something to think about

The Acts of the Apostles is a book about the events after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. It is also a story about Pentecost – the coming of the Holy Spirit – the One that Jesus promised to send.

When I was a youth minister at a Congregational church in Winchester, Massachusetts, my senior youth group members were often ambivalent about God as Father and even about Jesus – the word for God that made most sense to them was Holy Spirit.

In fact, they had it right. As Christians, we know God in Christ only through the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit that does everything. In the first verses of Genesis, it is the Spirit that moves over the face of the waters to create light.

The event of Pentecost is said to be the birthday of the Church – and it was the gathered disciples, including the Lord's mother (that is, including women), who formed the first Christian congregation when the Spirit descended upon them.

Something to do

Be spiritual. Visit other churches, mosques, temples and houses of worship. See what spirituality looks like in its various forms. Most of us have heard the popular, even trendy, phrase 'I am not religious, but I am spiritual.'

To both the religious and the atheistic, it may seem like a cop-out – either you are a believer or you're not. But it isn't that simple. The Holy Spirit is available to all, no matter their faith or lack thereof, for 'the Spirit blows where it chooses' (John 3:8).   

Something to pray

A prayer of John Donne (1573-1631)

Bring us, O Lord God, at our last awakening
into the house and gate of Heaven,
to enter into that gate
and dwell in that house, where there shall be
no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light;
no noise nor silence, but one equal music;
no fears or hopes, but one equal possession;
no ends or beginnings, but one equal eternity,
in the habitations of thy glory and dominion,
world without end. Amen,

Today's contributor is the Rev James Matarazzo Jr, a United Church of Christ (USA) minister from Boston, Massachusetts. He moved to London in 2007. Jim is a founding member of INERELA+ (International Network of Religious Leaders Living with and Affected by HIV and AIDS), a Christian Aid partner. He is now working on a DPhil in Systematic Theology at Oxford University.

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