On Saturday a witness was held in the High Street organised by ‘Churches together in Medway’ to celebrate Pentecost. We shall report more fully on this (with pictures) tomorrow.
For our first Sunday morning worship report this week we go to Strood where the meeting was led by Major Karen Smith.
The meeting began with that great Pentecost hymn ‘Thou Christ of burning, cleansing flame’ and continued with the congregation joining in a corporate declaration based on Ephesians 1:13 – ‘I am stamped with the seal of the Holy Spirit’. The prayer song was ‘Move Holy Spirit. move in my life’ and scripture chosen was from Acts 2:1-12.
In preparation for some time with the children Major Karen used the Gowans/Larssen favourite from the musical ‘Spirit’, ‘Who is it tells me what to do, that’s the Spirit’. The children themselves brought a song and the famous box appeared. ‘What’s in it?’ was the question. Items which illustrate our desire to change things, diet coke, a wig, monopoly money, sports shorts, etc.
Declan demonstrates how we can attempt to change our appearance!
The Senior Singing Group brought an item before Major Karen brought her message, based on the word ‘change’ which sums up Pentecost. She said (summarised):
The word Pentecost means 50, 50 days after Passover. 7 weeks, each of 7 days, includes 49 days and the feast was on the 50th day. Pentecost dates back to 1200 BC and was originally an agricultural holiday, thanking God for the harvest. At this time Jerusalem was filled with people. Pentecost can be summed up in one word – change.
Two major changes took place at Pentecost. The first was what happened to the disciples. Despite being with Jesus for three years they were still confused about some things, for example they still didn’t fully understand Jesus’ mission. As a result they were timid and not confident about sharing the gospel with others. But when Pentecost came, with its wind and tongues of fire, they were filled with the holy spirit and began speaking in foreign languages they had never learned before. Peter addressed the crown and 3000 people were converted in the one day. Confusion was changed to confidence and denial to understanding.
The second change could be argued to be more spectacular than the first. This occurred in the hearts and lives of those who were converted. Their whole way of looking at God changed and it was the Holy Spirit that brought his about. Now they were at peace with God because they knew Jesus was their Saviour.
Our world today needs change. There are so many people who do not believe in Jesus and there are so many Christians who are confused, weak and timid. We need the Holy Spirit to come and change us. Often we don’t recognise the need for change. We think we are OK as we are but we still have moments of timidity and misunderstanding about what God wants us to be doing. We still need to become, more and more, the people that God wants us to be.
So, how do we effect these changes. Simply, we need the Holy Spirit. The first Pentecost was a dramatic affair but scripture tells us that today he comes to us in many different, and often quiet, ways. Through preaching, reading God’s word and meditating on it are just some of them.
Pentecost is about power. We all have this power given by the Holy Spirit but we need a daily infilling to help us. May the Holy Spirit continue to work in you, to change you and to fan into flame the fire that is in each one of you.
A time for reflection was provided in the form of a solo by Major Karen’s husband, Murray, (Gracious Spirit, dwell with me) and the meeting concluded with the song ‘I’ve found a new and loving touch’.
We would also like to include a report on the morning meeting at Chatham which was led by Divisional Enablers Major Robert Jepson assisted by his wife Major Julia Jepson.
The meeting focused, as would be expected, on Pentecost. A short media clip ‘Sunday’ was shown which illustrated the preparations needed for a family to get ready for church on a Sunday morning. The family at home was different from the family which greeted everyone at church. There are times when we need to be prepared in advance for what is going to happen. Major Robert questioned when we would be getting excited for something special to happen – in his case, he gets thrilled with the anticipation of the aircraft taking off into the sky when flying away on holiday. Likewise, the disciples would have been waiting for something to happen when Jesus ascended into heaven.
‘Thou God of burning, cleansing flame’ was sung followed by Novena Prayers, ‘Thy kingdom come’, when we all participated in short prayers and concluded with the Lord’s Prayer. The song ‘There is a Redeemer’ followed, led by Major Julia, and the Singing Company brought their contribution to the meeting (There’s a way). The young people were then invited to choose a coloured balloon and an adult to come to the platform. Each adult was invited to blow up the balloon and hand it to the child who, at the count of three, had to let the balloons go to see which went the furthest. Major Robert likened this to us when we are filled with the Holy Spirit we are sent off into the world.
‘Beautiful Lord, wonderful Saviour’ was the song chosen before Major Robert brought the message. He related to three verses in the Scripture reading: Acts 1.1 ‘They were all together in one place’, Acts 1.4 ‘They were all filled with the Holy Spirit’ and Acts 1.48 ‘They all spoke in different languages’. He stressed the word ‘ALL’ as meaning ‘of one mind’ or ‘with one purpose’. As a Corps we had been all together in wishing the ‘Tweenagers’ safe and fulfilling time in visiting the Matumaini School. We are all together; the fact that ‘all’ those who gathered were filled with the Holy Spirit. They didn’t have to be perfect, or plead for it. Even the disciples who had fallen asleep, or denied Jesus, or doubted, were filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to comfort all believers. We should go out into the community with confidence that the Holy Spirit will guide us in all things.
When we arrived at the Hall we were given a fine lace of coloured leather. At this stage of the meeting, during the singing on CD of ‘Breathe’, we were asked to tie three knots in the leather strip and tie it as a bracelet. The three knots signified our prayers: We pledge to be all together as a Corps, all to receive the Holy Spirit and all to be involved. The song ‘I dare to live the life of faith (I dare to be different)’ brought the meeting to a close.
The evening meeting was led by Major Julia Jepson, this time assisted by Major Robert. The meeting began with the song ‘Gracious Spirit, dwell with me’ and the prayer song was ‘Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me’. Romans 8:1-11 was the chosen scripture and the Songsters contributed ‘Under His wings’.
The song ‘Who is it tells me what to do’ (That’s the Spirit) was used as an opportunity for personal testimony and three members of the congregation shared their experience of the Holy Spirit in their lives. The contribution from the Band was ‘Jesus loves me’.
In her message Major Julia said (summarised):
Would you like something about you to be transformed? As a young person I loved in ‘digs’. Ben also lived there and had a very loooooong beard. His mother asked him to shave and he did so, shaving his head and not his beard. When she saw this his mother was distraught. This was not the transformation she had hoped for.
We have a choice about our actions so that they are God honouring or self honouring. In scripture Paul says that the things he wants to do he cannot and that the things he does not want to do, he does. Through Christ Jesus we can do all things and so be different in our lives.
As Christians do we invest enough time in our faith or do we leave things to chance. We are instructed to ‘be transformed’ and for this to take place we must invest in Christ. The Holy Spirit can help us to make the difficult choices which often assail us in life. We must follow the Spirit’s guidance in our personal circumstances and in our ministry. We must give God all our commitment and He will repay us in like manner. It must be all or nothing. Then God will give you what you need to help others.
Have you truly experienced a transformed life through the Holy Spirit. If not , receive it now. It will come as a new power in your life to help you personally and in your ministry.
The songs ‘At the moment of my weakness’ (read by the congregation) and ‘Great is the darkness’ brought the worship to a close before refreshments and fellowship were enjoyed.
Thank you for staying with us to the end of this extended post. We are really grateful for your interest. God bless you and have a great week.