St. Chad's Anglican Church
St. Chad's Anglican Church
3874 Trafalgar St., Vancouver, B.C. V6L 2M4
Phone: (604) 731-5510

Decet vulputate nulla roto

May 15 (Pentecost)          Acts2:1-21             Rom.8:14-17                     Jn.14:8-17

Let us pray:            Living God, you grant us certainty of new life by the death and rising of your Son.  Renew and restore us, we pray, by sending forth your Spirit to affirm that certainty of our hope, so that we may proclaim your good news in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Has Pentecost got anything to do with us?  Whilst most of us would say ‘yes’, many of us cannot relate to the celebration of ‘Pentecost’ as closely as to celebration of Easter and Christmas.  At least here in the parish, we don’t have annual ‘Pentecost potluck’ meal, like our Christmas potluck dinner and Easter potluck lunch.  Perhaps down the road we should do Pentecost potluck breakfast – after all, the downpour of Holy Spirit upon the disciples happened at 9am!

St. Paul would probably encourage Christians to place more emphasis on celebration of Pentecost, for as we heard from our Second Reading today, he reminded us that the Spirit produces in us an authentic filial relationship to God.  Let’s hear how he said there: ‘For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God . . . it is that very spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God . . . then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ – if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.’

Like Christmas is a lot more than ‘that cute baby’ born in the manger, or Easter is a lot more than ‘an empty tomb’, Pentecost is a lot deeper than ‘wind and fire’ or ‘even speaking in tongues’.  It’s not just ‘the outward signs’ but all the more ‘the inward grace’.

Nevertheless, the outward signs of Pentecost: with ‘coming of sound from heaven like the rush of a violent wind, filling the entire house where the disciples were sitting’, and with ‘divided tongues, as of fire, appearing among them, and a tongue rested on each of them’ and more importantly with ‘all of them being filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability’ – these outward signs were so spectacular that it’s inevitable that people then as well as us now are all attracted to it.  In fact, as we think about it, it’s the attraction of the huge crowd of ‘devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem’ that eventually led to the beginning of the church with 3,000 converts from that crowd that day, after their hearing of Peter’s address to them to interpret those spectacular signs as fulfilling the prophet’s Joel’ foretelling about what to expect in the last days: a time when people would call out to the Lord for salvation.  Wouldn’t we find such correlation intriguing?

In the depth of God’s wisdom, Pentecost with the spectacular signs of ‘wind and fire’ and ‘speaking in tongues’ is no mere co-incidence but carefully planned.  First and foremost, as we recall from our Gospel Reading today, Jesus had foretold his disciples about it before his departure from them.  He told them: ‘if you love me, you will keep my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.  This is the Spirit of truth . . . you know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.’  Would it then be a surprise that the Spirit came as wind and fire to strengthen and to enlighten them for ministry (just like in the old days of Elijah, wind and fire being the prelude before Elijah finally met God in his exhaustion upon Jezebel’s pursue)?  Again, would it be a surprise that the Spirit granted them the ability to speak in tongues so as to gain universal understanding (as a reversal of the universal confusion of Babel as the pride-filled tower-builders got dispersed by God by making them to speak different languages so that they could not understand one another)?

Besides, what’s also not mere co-incidence is that the bewildered audience who got attracted by these signs were ‘devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem’.   The fact that they were world-wide immigrated Jews originally from everywhere and yet heard the disciples speaking with Galilean assents in their native dialect from many different nations on earth is a divine sign which they could not brush aside, especially when they were all devout Jews.  And hence Peter’s explaining the signs to them by making reference to fulfilling of the Joel prophecy was particularly effective in grabbing their attention, both in terms of (1) being fascinated by how the Joel prophecy could be fulfilled in the form of the ‘wind and fire’ and the ‘speaking in tongues’; and (2) determination to consider it’s ‘the day of the Lord’ when history would end, and a time when people would ‘call out to the Lord for salvation’.  With that, there’s the thread leading to 3,000 of them seeking for baptism after hearing Peter’s address on the salvation from Christ through the cross and the empty tomb, as it all got started from their initially imagining that the disciples were drunk at 9 o’clock in the morning, to realizing that such signs and wonders were the Holy Spirit’s drawing their attention to the timely ‘calling out to the Lord for salvation’ to claim the much hoped for new life and restoration.  So it’s no mere co-incidence that after hearing Peter’s message concluding with ‘therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified’, they asked Peter what they should do and then decided to ‘save themselves from this corrupt generation’ by getting baptized, and then ‘devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers’.  So, they became the first church, as downpour of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost gave birth to the church, adding new members to the Body of Christ beyond those who had first-hand experience of meeting Christ before his death and resurrection.

We tend to love birthdays – celebrating our own or others’.  So today even if we’re not immediately jumping into looking at how the ‘wind and fire’ or ‘speaking in tongues’ mean for us today, at least we care to think about Pentecost as the birthday of the church.  Of course we’re now 2,000 years after that first birthday of the church in Jerusalem.  Even for us as a very small church, we have now moved into our 69th year as St. Chad’s first started our ministry in this neighborhood in 1947.  I would say that there would be no birth of St. Chad’s then if it’s not for the Spirit’s manifestation of its outpour in 1947 upon our pioneers the hearts of love towards the need of young family and children in our neighborhood (which was a brand-new developing community in the city) with signs (in our case it’s not ‘wind and fire’ or ‘speaking in tongues’, but the sudden exponential arrival of new babies and then kids after World War 2: i.e. what we now call the ‘baby-boomers’ era).

That same outpour of the Spirit like ‘rush of wind and descend of fire’ and ‘speaking in tongue’ fell upon our predecessors again in the past quarter of a century when their hearts got touched with deep love for support of new families settling down in our neighborhood after their emigration from Asia.  Perhaps this time the sign of ‘speaking in tongue’ is a more powerful symbolic outpour of the Holy Spirit in this church after 40 years of its birth, as the ministry started with running of ESL classes for new neighbors, well before the Government started any similar work for new immigrants in the province.

On both occasions of our parish history, what’s been depicted above echoes well Jesus’ words to the disciples (ourselves included): ‘if you love me, you will keep my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.  This is the Spirit of truth . . . you know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.’  That’s right, without the Holy Spirit abiding with us and in us as parishioners of St. Chad’s over these 69 years, you and I won’t be worshipping here today and continue with our love for God and for neighbors.  As we give thanks for that, we also need to ask ourselves how to keep treading that path of love, given our current challenges beyond 1947 or 1990.  Whilst we need to take count of, or name, our current challenges as a parish in the Arbutus Ridge and Valley area to keep treading that path of love for God and for our neighbours, keeping our eyes and ears open to what’s happening around us, we don’t need to be too nervous about what we might have missed not heeding.  For it’s all the work of the Holy Spirit, not us.  Our duty is to simply keep that posture of love and faithfulness, as we wait and/or move to fit into where the Holy Spirit puts us into, both in terms of what we can offer and the needs of those around us.  For that matter, we don’t even have to be concerned about either of those two factors, for it will be taken care of by the Holy Spirit.  This is just like on that Pentecost Day, the apostles had outpour of the Spirit upon them so that they spoke in tongues which was a total surprise to them, not only to the audience.  Besides, who would have imagined that their audience who got attracted by the sound of the ‘wind and fire’ was a huge crowd of ‘devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem’ . . . from Medes to Mesopotamia to Cappadocia to Egypt to Libya to Rome.  As I had alluded to briefly before, without such a special crowd of audience with their respective native languages, that special gift from the Holy Spirit of speaking in tongues would have little effect in attracting their attention to Peter’s speech, just like their being devote Jews helped to connect them immediately to their faith decision to be baptized, to reclaim their identity as children of God in this corrupt generation which even crucified the Son of God.

Well, which generation isn’t corrupt?  Ours cannot be an exception.  Yet all the more so we can count on Jesus’ promise for sending us the Holy Spirit to abide with us and be in us, if we love him and hence love our neighbors.  It probably won’t come with signs of ‘fire and wind’ and ‘speaking in tongues’ and a special crowd like those on Day of Pentecost 2,000 years ago, but even in the past 10 years, we had seen it came with our love meeting people with special need for prayer and healing, people needing unique acceptance and empathy, but more predominately people needing to know God’s presence and God’s salvation irrespective of who they are and where they come from.  And the Holy Spirit’s gifts for us will probably be different for different individuals among us: some may be good at hospitality, others good at prayers or steadfast in faith or strong in commitment etc.   Yet, the church of God always grows warmer through fellowship, deeper through discipleship, stronger through worship, broader through ministry and larger through evangelism.  When we pull our gifts together in love, we can count on God’s answering our prayer today:          Living God, you grant us certainty of new life by the death and rising of your Son.  Renew and restore us, we pray, by sending forth your Spirit to affirm that certainty of our hope, so that we may proclaim your good news in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

五月十五日(聖靈降臨日)     2:1-11     8:14-17     14:8-17
















要是我們細心回想一下,這些「虔誠的猶太人」,他們生來的第一語言并非希伯來語(即猶太話),而是他們出生地的「鄉談」,這些至終回歸耶路撒冷的昔日移民,是從四方八面的旅居之地回歸到耶路撒冷的。這些旅居之地包括遠方東邊的米所波大米(亦即現代的伊朗),以至更東的瑪代和以攔,也包括西北的加帕多家和亞西亞,也包括非洲北部的埃及和呂彼亞,甚至是歐洲的羅馬,甚至是進猶太教的亞拉伯人,他們當時都居住在耶路撒冷,且都虔信猶太教。若不是上帝的安排,誰會料到這些被當日聖靈降臨時那從天上下來猶如大風吹過的大響聲所吸引來聚集的群眾,竟是出生於各國各地的猶太人,因此他們就很自然的在聽見門徒能以聖靈賜下「說方言的恩賜」來以群衆當中百般不同的「鄕談」來說話,儘管可能仍 帶有加利利的口音,但已足夠叫他們驚訝、猜疑,皆因未能明白當中的意思,以致在百思不得其解之下,思想狹窄點的人難免用「酒醉」來試圖解釋這非凡的現象。












2015 Pentecost