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The Majesty of The Holy Spirit: Pentecost 2024

May I speak in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

How many of you had the privilege of seeing the northern lights a couple of weeks back? I was just taking the dog out for a wee around midnight and in the darkness of the garden, happened to look up into the sky, where a deep purple sheet of light was moving slowly across the sky. At first I thought, ‘What idiot is shining a bright purple light in the sky?’, before realisation hit. It was simply magnificent. The lights beauty and colour lit the night sky and the garden in a very gentle purple hue. My phone was struggling with battery, but I managed to take a couple of shots while I watched the lights dance slowly across the sky. It was an amazing thing to witness and I felt quite lucky to have seen them, particularly as I had no idea it was going to happen.

 

This magnificent light show was caused by a coronal mass ejection from the Sun, where huge amounts of charged particles are thrown out from the sun. When these particles interact with our planets magnetic field and atmosphere, the energy creates these wonderful light displays that many people witnessed here and across the world. Its stunningly beautiful of course, but it is also a reminder of our fragility.

What we tend to forget, is that the sun really is amazingly dangerous. The sun is in layman terms essentially a massive nuclear explosion coming from a ball of gas that is over 300,000 times heavier than the that has been going on for billions of years. What we saw a couple of weeks ago was a really large coronal mass ejection event. The largest ever recorded to hit the earth in history is known as the Carrington Event after the scientist who recorded in the 19th century. There were reports of telegraph machines starting to burn and being damaged, and not needing to be connected to a battery to work as the coronal mass ejection was making the electricity flow instead. If an event of that size where to hit the earth in our modern day, it would likely cause a power cut lasting weeks rather than days, take out the internet, satellites and more. In short it would be a catastrophic event for our way of life despite us being around 93 million miles away from the sun. Our massive sun is spewing out radiation and particles constantly even when there aren’t any coronal mass ejections going on, and all that protects us is the magnetic field of the Earth, pushing those particles away. The sun is both life giving and entirely deadly. That beautiful display a few days ago just shows and connects us to the almost incomprehensibly large and powerful star at the centre of our solar system.


The story of humanity and God is not dissimilar. In the beginning humanity fell, and although God the Father created all, through the Son as the Spirit hovered over the water had given life, through our fall to be too close to God was to die. His holiness for us fallen humans, like the radiation from the sun was simply too much, which is why, throughout the Old Testament people are afraid, rightly, to get too close to God. Moses could only glimpse the back of God while in a crack in the rock, Isaiah in his vision of God in Heaven assumes he is going to die and poor Uzzah, who touches the ark, full of God’s holiness, to steady it, dies instantly. A necessary deep chasm was between God and all humanity, not for any other reason than our own protection. Yet throughout the Old Testament we hear hints and promises of what is to come. The Messiah who will die for sin and be resurrected. The Messiah would be king. The Messiah would save. It is all there for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.


Then, born in a manger, Jesus, God incarnate, fully God and fully Man came, lived a life without sin and died at our hands, a sacrifice for sin and the defeat of death. The curtain that separated the holiness of the ark, the physical sign of God’s deadly and life-giving holiness was torn in two. It was no longer needed. Through Jesus, we had a way to meet with the Father. But, how could He be present to every believer, if He were only able to be in one place? So, Jesus ascended to the Father and instructed His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit, the advocate to come.


Today, many years ago, that Spirit that had hovered over the waters, that had inspired the prophets, that had filled and led the heroes of the faith, came in a new way, and came to live in the heart of every believer who asked for it. That Spirit, fully God, came to live in the hearts of the disciples and comes to live in our hearts too. The Holy Spirit, all that power and holiness and love of God has made us His temple and intercedes, prays for us on our behalf. Like the aurora in the sky, it connects us through magnificent beauty to the source of all life, connecting us to God. That is the cosmic reality we celebrate at Pentecost, and it is something we should never take for granted. Through the Son, we are filled with the Spirit of God so that we can be connected to God and like Jesus call Him Father.


Many people didn’t see the northern lights. Many people ignored them. Yet they are something you will never forget if you see them. How much more powerful, how much more glorious, how much more wonderful is the Holy Spirit, fully God, filling the hearts of believers, giving eternal life, leading us to be the family of God here in Cleveleys? This Pentecost and always, I wonder if we can pray for three things? Firstly pray to be filled abundantly with the Holy Spirit. Let the joy and life and love of the Lord fill your heart. Secondly, let us rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead us individually and corporately. Finally, pray for the courage to tell people about how they too can find the wonders of being filled with the Spirit also. Because the glories of a connection to God who is so much bigger than our universe, let alone our sun, is so lifegiving and magnificent how can we do anything but share the Good news of the God, who sent the Son so the Spirit could fill the hearts of every believer and give them life. Amen

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