Virtual Morning Worship


Leader: Revd Richard Pendlebury
Speaker: John Stilwell
All Age Slot: Imogen & Jon Ball

Acts 2:1-21Open Link in New Window

The Order of Service.

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You will need to imagine the wind-blown trees, soaring birds and cooking sausages.

The all-age material and text of John’s notes for the sermon.

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A presentation looking at Pentecost by John.

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If the links don’t work for you, here is Imogen & Jon’s video presentation xxxx , Awesome God, Coming Alive, God Suit On, The Dinosaur Song and the Kite Instructions.

Todays reading is Acts 2:1-21Open Link in New Window

Here is today’s reflection by John.


If you are of a certain age, you will probably have seen someone who is ashamed of being drunk and is desperate to hide it: normally unsuccessfully. They don’t receive the accusation particularly well. How about the other side of the coin: Have you ever acted in such a way that you got so excited that you are mistaken for being drunk whilst being stone cold sober. Those who know me will testify that this is not an abnormal occurrence in my life. I’m ok with that. In fact, I am going to work this morning hoping that it will happen again. Are you up for the challenge too?

So Pentecost. The Birthday of the church.

50 days after Passover, (that’s the Pente bit) Jews celebrate the Feast of Weeks: their kind of harvest festival. One of the reasons we know the Apostles weren’t drunk: they would have been fasting, as part of it.

The 50 is significant because the Jews believe Moses was given the law on Mount Sinai 50 days after the Passover.

This is significant and Luke is keen we grasp it but I can’t put it better than Tom Wright:
“Its important that someone somewhere is tracking the hurricane and telling us what it’s doing, but when it come to Pentecost it’s far more important that you are out in the wind.” (Acts for Everyone, p.22)

Because God is very kind to me, he provided the strong winds last weekend:

Mighty Wind Holy Fire

Did you hear the sound of the Wind? Did you see the massive trees moving?

We’re supposed to get the idea: the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit is massive. Dry bones coming to life. What did Jesus say to the disciples: it is important that I leave, because then the helper will come. Why did Jesus go back to Heaven on Ascension Day? Partly because his job was done death defeated and can hold us no more. More on that later, but he knew we needed that power in our lives. The ultimate act of denying himself, so God’s Holy Spirit could sweep through his church.

An example: Did you notice the birds: How hard did they had to work to fly against the wind? Did you see them soar flying with the wind? God wants us to rise on the wings like Eagles.

The example I want to share of this is my lockdown dip. Initially it was great. Responding in real time to briefings from the government and then the immense challenge of delivering the message of Easter online. Then it hit me and I had a few fallow weeks, missing people. Picture if you will a person trying to walk into the wind with flailing arms. What did God do? He just loved me. Wrapped his big father arms around all the flailing limbs. Stuff I couldn’t seem to fix, he fixed. The purpose I had lost, he gave me back. Gently resetting my direction: fly with the wind. He can do that for you too.

Tongues of Fire

The other image used for the Spirit was of tongues of fire. That’s why red is the colour of Pentecost.

What is about fire? One of the properties of fire that we use is that it produces a change in that which it comes in to contact. Lots of the time those changes are irreversible. That’s what we want. I don’t want my food to go back to being raw, I want it to be cooked so I can eat it. If I leave these sausages on for too long then they will burn. Fire can be dangerous.

So we are left with a choice. Do we engage with cooking hoping for our food to be made ready to eat or are we so afraid that we are going to burn it, we never cook? The same is true of letting the Holy Spirit into our lives. We can embrace the opportunity, realise the benefits, pass on the goodness to others or we play it safe, hide our light under buckets safe in the knowledge that we didn’t burn anyone. If we choose not to cook, because of the fear of burning food, well I hope you like salad and sandwiches. Don’t miss out on the amazing life of the Spirit, you’ll never be the same again.

Good news for everyone

The final idea of Pentecost is Good news for everyone. People get really hung up on details of the day: Did they speak in real languages or unknown words spoken of elsewhere in the Bible? The answer I come to is yes: recognisable languages, because simply we are dealing with a Holy Spirit who is powerful enough to make that happen. Luke is making the point that all the languages mentioned covered the world as they knew it at the time: This is good news for everyone. No one is left out. This supernatural event is combined with the day by day courage that those uneducated Galileans needed not to run and hide, but tell the story of the Jesus they had met. That was the message the audience had been waiting for since the time of Joel. Jews were dreaming of the day when God would break into history. That was Peter’s message: He has. He’s called Jesus and Everyone who calls on his name will be saved. Not just in some vague future avoiding eternal damnation: a trade off for being bored for an hour on a Sunday. No this is life changing now. The guidance of God’s Spirit breathing life into our existence, giving us purpose. Giving us the courage to face the challenges that life throws at us. Realising our full potential: being the person we were created to be.

So if there are any people watching this that are still making up their mind about Jesus: keep exploring. Join an Alpha course. Talk to the person who helped you find this service this morning and ask them whether it’s real for them. If you been a follower of Jesus for a long time, does it still feel like good news or is something missing: or perhaps its best expressed like this: when was the last time someone accused you of being drunk when you got so excited about Jesus?

There will be a video version of the service and a podcast of the sermon.

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Friday Morning Prayer

Join Imogen and Jon for Morning Prayer. If you would like to pray at the same time as others, we suggest joining at 8am. During this season of lockdown, Jon and Imogen will be offering Morning Prayer every Friday morning from their home. We hope this helps you maintain or discover a structure of prayer in your week.

The reading is Psalm 28Open Link in New Window.

Join the Church of England in prayer with daily services for Morning, Evening and Night Prayer. Free for online use (click one of the download buttons not the blue icon), or £2.99 subscription for use offline (in app purchase).

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