Chapter & verse: Acts 2:15-18; Joel 2:28-29
Pentecost is for everyone, says Donald Norwood
God’s Spirit is not just for Pentecostals and the privileged few. As too often happens at Pentecost, we only hear what Peter says about Joel in Acts 2 and don’t let the prophet speak for himself in his own book. It is easy then to think that Pentecost is only about the formation of the Church and her mission. We get the same impression from the creeds, where belief in the Holy Spirit embraces belief in the one, holy catholic Church, the forgiveness of sins, the communion of saints and the life everlasting. Yet even Acts will tell you that all the people gathered in Jerusalem were Jews who had gathered for a Jewish festival, Pentecost, so named because it took place 50 days after the festival of First Fruits. If you wish to know more, you can quickly discover that Pentecost had become a sort of harvest festival and a commemoration of God’s gift of the Law, the very themes which are amplified by Joel throughout his book.
Until this year I had never preached about Joel because I did not know enough about his book. A poor excuse, I admit. It is only three short chapters long and it is clear from verse one that we are talking about a moral universe ruled by God where human disregard for God’s will brings chaos and destruction on the land and even the cows know that the proper thing to do is to turn to God in prayer and ask God for his help. And God responds not just by inspiring a lone prophet like Joel or a king like David but by pouring out his spirit on all flesh so that even slaves, male and female, people of no consequence in a social hierarchy, know what God is saying and can tell us, if only we are humble enough to listen to them and respond….
Donald W Norwood is a United Reformed Church minister engaged in ecumenical research in Oxford. He is the author of Democracy and the Christian Churches: Ecumenism and the politics of belief
This is an extract from an article published in the June 2022 edition of Reform