“But I promise you this — the Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will be seized with power. And you will be my messengers to Jerusalem, throughout Judea, the distant provinces — even to the remotest places on earth!”
Acts 1:8 The Passion Translation
In medieval times a royal herald was a court emissary, distinctive in uniform and bearing, who was accorded the highest respect. A herald spoke on behalf of the sovereign, with words from a scroll that were received with the gravity of their royal source. At a time of royal succession, they would announce the passing of the former order and the message of the new rule and dominion.
If Pentecost is the “birthday of the Church”, as it will be described in countless children’s talks today, then it is not the birth of a building or an institution, not a denomination or a Sunday tradition or a particular religious culture.
It is the commissioning of heralds to go out on behalf of the King of kings to places both relatively near and far off. Heralds are empowered by royal warrant with royal supply and protection, to make known the good news of this new reign.
The original Pentecost was the commissioning and empowering of many, drawn together from all over the known world, to go back out with the Good News of who Jesus is and what He has done to free us, a ransom that we could never have raised.
How do we receive that today? At a time when leaders of traditional denominations are lobbying government to allow their buildings to open again, are we missing the point?
We were not commissioned as a club with activities exclusive to members and experienced only by stepping out of the grimy world and into its special and well-appointed building.
The direction is the opposite one — we were gathered to the presence of Jesus, to be empowered by Him and sent out with His message, not into a building to hear it again. We’re not sent as failing sinners – not much of a message there – but as royal messengers whose distinctive uniform is not made of fabric, but is visible in a different way through the kind of people we are: those broken and put together in a new way, as new creations in Christ Jesus.
We have the best news ever. Recent constraints have taught us that we don’t have to rely on buildings, liturgical formalities or even the ‘holy’ Sunday mid-morning slot. Let us recapture our historic commission of being sent out of our familiar religious comfort zones (Jerusalem) and into the more challenging world (Judea, Samaria and beyond), letting the Holy Spirit lead us into new ways of connecting, and renewed creativity to simply tell the story we have been given.
It’s Good News and we have it to share!